April 13, 2023 | Ciara Long
As New York City’s housing affordability crisis grows increasingly urgent, lawmakers are looking at alternative ways to halt displacement. One bill, currently making its way through the New York City Council, would give priority for purchasing city-owned land to Community Land Trusts.
“There’s a real gap where the city will half-dispose of some of their HPD-owned properties to a Community Land Trust, and put the burden on them to bring them up to code,” said Mychal Johnson, a founding member of nonprofit South Bronx Unite and a member of the group’s advisory board. “They’re almost setting it up for a Community Land Trust to fail if they expect us to have to come up with the money to renovate property that they’ve let become dilapidated.”
Paula Segal, a senior staff attorney for TakeRoot Justice’s Equitable Neighborhoods team, told Bisnow that the East Harlem properties are an example of how complex and costly it can be to bring city-owned properties up to standard.
“The buildings are so run down that to bring them back up to code, to bring them into a place where people will feel comfortable living there, that’s going to cost a lot of money,” she said. “At the moment, the city isn’t actually making those contributions, it’s forcing the community land trusts and their partners to take out private loans. And that is a real barrier to long-term affordability.”
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