Creating and Supporting Community Land Trusts

Land ownership is the most straightforward way for people to control the land they live on. Community land trusts (CLTs) are non-profit organizations that treat land as a public good.

Stability of place allows people living or working in a neighborhood to build community and resilience. A CLT  allows the community to keep the wealth it creates by maintain affordability and ensuring that new uses and users are community-focused. CLTs lease the land they own to non-profit building owners, homeowners and community institutions; the terms in those long-term leases define the present and future of the CLT’s land. They typically include rent and resale formulas.

TakeRoot’s Equitable Neighborhoods team provides legal and technical support to CLTs and grassroots organizations developing new CLTs in order to preserve long-term affordability and economic investment in their communities. Our clients include the East Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust and the Bronx Community Land Trust.

TakeRoot also advocates for policies that will support CLTs focused on creating and preserving deeply affordable housing citywide as a member of the New York City Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI) and a member of and counsel to the Abolish the Tax Lien Sale Coalition

Read NYCCLI’s 2022 policy priorities.

Click to read about the current policy campaign to abolish the NYC lien sale.

Selected Press

The Baffler: Lien on Me |Feb. 10, 2022

LISC: Real Power is in the Land: Community Land Trusts Past, Present, and Future | Aug. 11, 2021

The New York Times: New York Is Back. Now It Has a Second Chance | June 8, 2021

New York YIMBY: El Barrio Community Land Trust To Renovate 4 City-Owned Buildings To Affordable Housing In Harlem | March 5, 2021

Patch: Harlem Land Trust Secures Historic Deal For Affordable Housing | Nov. 30, 2020

Curbed: Community land trusts score crucial funds in city budget | June 18, 2019

Next City: Momentum for NYC Community Land Trusts Gets $1.65M Boost | July 26, 2017

Testimony

Testimony on Intro 1613, A Bill in Relation to Community Land Trusts in the Third Party Transfer Program (Nov. 9, 2021): “Intro. 1613-2019 should be amended to reflect that flexibility and diversity of the CLT movement in NYC. The current definition that in the bill is a reference to a portion of the Administrative Code that directs HPD to enter into regulatory agreements with CLTs developing housing. In that context, the limitation that CLTs entering into such agreements be incorporated under the HDFC law: it is a requirement for all HPD regulatory agreement signatories. In the broader context of being able to receive properties in distress for their preservation and development, the limitation is irrational. If included in the final text before the bill is passed, it would be a barrier to the preservation and development of affordable community, commercial and manufacturing spaces using the robust CLT model.”

Testimony before the New York City Council Committee on Land Use Preliminary Budget Hearing for FY 2020 (March 7, 2019): TakeRoot, in partnership with the New Economy Project and the Cooper Square CLT in the Lower East Side, testified to ask the City Council to include funding in the FY 2020 budget for a Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative, of which TakeRoot is a member. You can watch the hearing here; TakeRoot’s testimony begins at 3:26:17. TakeRoot and our partners were successful in securing $870,000 of discretionary funding in the 2020 City budget for the development and expansion of CLTs.

Testimony on Intro 1269, A Bill in Relation to the Creation of Regulatory Agreements with Community Land Trusts (October 19, 2017): TakeRoot spoke in support of this bill as a foundation on which to build a regulatory framework around CLTs. TakeRoot also endorsed suggestions by the New York Community Land Initiative for improving the bill to ensure that CLTs are truly a vehicle for creating and preserving housing for low income families.

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Photo: The best-known CLT in New York City is Cooper Square, which holds land on which 22 buildings are located. The buildings themselves are owned by MHAs, which manage the buildings for residential and commercial tenants, and have converted many of the apartments to co-op ownership. This structure has kept rents and co-op fees affordable in the midst of rapid gentrification elsewhere in the Lower East Side.