City Using Community Land Trusts to Create Affordable Housing

Since the 1960s, and especially after Hurricane Sandy, Lorraine Warren has seen a lot of changes to her Edgemere neighborhood, but, one thing really stands out.

“We don’t have enough people owning anymore,” said Warren.

That could soon change.

On Wednesday, a national advocacy group awarded the city $1.65 million dollars. Money which will be used to create and expand Community Land Trusts.

CLT’s as they’re known, are not-for-profit entities which buy city owned land and through subsidies are able to keep property values down, allowing homes built on that land to be sold affordably.

Although the model has been used in other parts of the country, the proposal would be one of the first implemented in the city. 

“It’s quite new here in New York City but we think it’s an important one not just to promote home ownership but to really ensure that we are really using every tool, the heart of which is community driven housing development,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner, Maria Torres-Springer.

Part of the money, 500-thousand dollars was used to create the Interboro CLT, a coalition of groups tasked with bringing affordable housing options to Edgemere.

An area which officials say is unique in that more than 100 city owned sites sit vacant there.

“So this empty lot here could become a place where two or three family homes would be on land owned by the non-profit land trust,” said Christie Peale, with the Center for NYC Neighborhoods.

While a majority of the sites had already been acquired years ago by the city, officials say some came about after Hurricane Sandy. Councilman Donovan Richards believes Community Land Trusts are a way to help fix some of those long-term issues .

“Sandy was a horrible thing but it also shined a light on many of the plight issues that we have seen in this community for a very long time and quite frankly it’s created an opportunity," said Richards.

The next step will be for the Community Land Trust to work with the city to come up development plan. Which officials say could takes several months.

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