community land trusts

The 20 undersigned organizations are pleased to respond to New York City’s Shared Equity Request for Information (RFI). We believe that New York City should be a beacon for cooperative economics, advancing racial and gender equity and community-led development. Our organizations include cooperatives and community land trusts, as well as grassroots and member-led groups that have developed these and other shared equity strategies in Black, brown, and immigrant communities. Also included are organizations that provide critical financing, legal assistance, training and other support to community-led initiatives.

New York City Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI) is pleased to provide information about community land trusts as a holistic shared equity model of nonprofit and collective land ownership by a community. We understand that New York City (“NYC” or “the city”) has analyzed and is providing support to CLTs through the lens of the city’s existing affordable housing programs. However, this response sets out a framework of CLTs as a more comprehensive shared equity model rooted in housing, economic and social justice – one that allows the communities that are most impacted to exercise agency over land development and stewardship not for profit but for the long-term stability of their neighborhoods. That long-term stability is the key to building community wealth.

Community and housing activists joined elected officials at a rally at City Hall Park today, as they called for a just budget that includes $1.51 million for the Citywide Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative to expand community control of land and housing in NYC’s Black, brown and immigrant communities. Funding will support 14 neighborhood-based CLTs organizing across the five boroughs, as well as four citywide technical support organizations.

Community land trusts (CLTs) are on the rise across New York State, working to give communities control over land and housing. New Economy Project recently organized a virtual learning exchange for NYC Community Land Initiative members and two of our upstate CLT neighbors: City Roots CLT, in Rochester, and the Fruit Belt CLT, in Buffalo.

The Appeal — Across New York State, millions of tenants are at risk of eviction and property values are falling. A recent analysis found that New York City renters in neighborhoods hit hardest  by COVID-19—largely Black and Latinx communities—face nearly four times the number of eviction cases as less hard-hit areas. Local housing justice advocates fear a repeat of the 2008 housing crisis, when properties fell into distress and investors bought up 100,000 rental units across New York City, which, advocates say, led to displacement and worsened living conditions for many tenants.

New Economy Project and 17 partner organizations in the CLT Initiative seek $1.51 million in City Council discretionary funding in FY2022. We urge the Committee to support this funding request and ensure that CLTs continue to play a key role in stabilizing communities, combating speculation, and promoting a just recovery in Black, brown and immigrant neighborhoods. (See attached one-pager detailing activities and participating organizations.)

New Economy Project coordinates the Citywide Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative, launched in FY2020 to strengthen and expand CLTs and permanently affordable housing, commercial and community spaces, across NYC. In less than two years, the Initiative has made major progress–helping to launch and expand CLTs in the South and Northwest Bronx, East Harlem and the Lower East Side, Jackson Heights, Brownsville, East New York, and beyond.

NYC needs transformative, community-led solutions to our city’s affordability crisis that advance racial equity and a just recovery. I am pleased to testify in support of Intro 1977, the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA), and Intro 118-A, to establish a municipal land bank. Passage of these bills will give communities–and the City, itself–new tools to keep New Yorkers safely housed, expand community land trusts and social housing, and curb speculation in the wake of COVID-19. We thank Council Member Rivera and Council Member Lander for their leadership and urge the Committee to advance this critical legislation.