Spring 2018

The front cover of the Spring 2018 edition of Shelterforce magazine. It shows an African-American man speaking through a bullhorn. The theme is In this issue we also take a look at where models of permanent affordability and shared equity stand now, how they have fared over time, and how they could be or are being expanded into new places —even some places where the existing community development organizations weren’t so excited to see them coming.

Scroll down to read more, plus other features and columns from this issue, or purchase a copy to hold in your hands.

What Does “Community Control of Land” Mean?

When we put out a call for essays about the meaning of community control of land, we expected we might get a handful of responses. Instead we got dozens and dozens, coming from all different parts of the country, from residents and researchers, activists and advocates. We clearly touched a nerve.
A view of a community in Oregon, with an American flag framing the left hand side. Lots of trees in the area.

The State of Permanent Affordability

In the face of accelerating gentrification, along with ongoing speculation and eviction, the idea of putting a substantial number of homes outside of the reach of the speculative market has been gaining momentum across the country.
An apartment complex in Minnesota that was under threat of being sold to a luxury developer.

Beating Luxury Developers at Their Own Game

The tide is starting to change as a number of organizations have partnered with nonprofits to make deals to acquire naturally occurring affordable housing.
A man and a woman stand in front of a chalkboard sign that reads "This House Could Be ..."The man is writing on the board, as many others have done. Some of the suggestions for what the house could be include a community gathering space and a senior center.

Rebellion Spurs Opportunity and a New Housing Movement

How a Baltimore collaborative plans to make shared-equity housing a significant sector in the local housing market.
A home at the Dos Pinos Housing Cooperative, the only limited-equity housing co-op in Davis, California.

A Low-Cost Ownership Oasis in a Desert of Apartment Unaffordability

When this limited-equity cooperative in California began more than 30 years ago, it wasn’t the most affordable place to live. But now the co-op’s monthly costs are 50 percent lower than the average market-rate apartment.
An African-American man and woman stand happily outside on their front porch. The woman is wearing a red coat and a black and white hate, while the man is reader a read Oakland A's hat and a black jacket.

Getting Ahead of Gentrification in the South Side of Columbus

More than a decade after several groups came together to improve substandard housing in the South Side of Columbus, signs of gentrification and forced displacement are beginning to emerge. Can something be done so current residents can afford to stay in their neighborhoods for years to come? The short answer is yes.
The polygon outline is the residential census tract for the participants’ housing project community, represented by the single black marker. Green markers represent places participants identified as positive, healthy, and good, while red markers represent places identified as negative, unhealthy, and bad.

The Real Limits of Imaginary Lines

We can’t truly understand how a person’s health is affected by where they live if we look only at data within arbitrary boundaries like census tracts and ignore the places people actually go and don’t go every day.
A group of residents stand outside of the Oak Hill Meeting House holding a sign that reads "We Own It." They are clapping and cheering.

The State of Shared-Equity Homeownership

Though the need is greater than ever for resale-restricted, affordable homes, the growth of this model of homeownership appears to be limited.
A vacant building in New York City that has boarded up windows and a "Get Rich" signs for a kid cut.

Housing, Not Warehousing—A Victory 10 Years in the Making

Warehousing is one of real estate’s best-kept secrets, and a crucial piece of how the housing market can keep supply low and demand high. One New York City organization rallied to prove warehousing still posed a problem, and pushed the boundaries of what was politically possible.
Several residents, as well as some children, enjoy outside exercise equipment.

Getting Health on Board

It’s becoming increasingly common for community development corporations and grassroots housing organizations to have board members from the health care sector. Here's why.
We ask: What don't people who are getting rental assistance get a job? The Answer: More than half are elderly or disabled. Of the rest, most of them do have a job!

Q: Why Don’t People Who Get Rental Assistance Get a Job?

A: More than half are elderly or disabled. Of the rest, most of them do have a job! Ninety-four percent of rental assistance receipts are ...
Eastern Market food advertisement banners on old buildings in downtown Detriot.

Inclusionary Housing in Soft or Mixed Markets

The time to strike isn’t when the iron is hot. Cities in soft or mixed markets should adopt inclusionary housing policies before the housing market heats up and the process becomes even more challenging.

“More Than the Sum of Our Property Values”

How can power over land be used in such a way that people who are at a political disadvantage—who are poor, members of racial, ethnic or religious minorities, very young or very old, or have a disability—benefit? How about those who cannot speak for themselves, like trees or rivers?

Community Rights and Urban Land

The contemporary American understanding of community control over urban land is rooted in post-war organizing against government-driven redevelopment and bank-driven financial disinvestment. Broader movement...

Corbin Hill Food Project Land Transfer

To the Corbin Hill Food Project, community control over land manifests itself not only through land ownership but also through the emergence of a food system that is guided by values of sovereignty, racial equity, and shifting of power.

Co-ops: Resistance to Living in the Land of the Lord

For Section 8 recipients, a step toward economic mobility (and community control) can be limited-equity cooperatives. A Section 8 voucher can be used to pay some of the monthly carrying costs of a co-op unit.
Carin McKay and Chris Carlsson at City Hall during a Mission No Eviction protest in 2015. Charlsson holds a sign that reads "We support the Pigeon Palace becomming a SF Community Land Trust."

The Fight Is Unfinished in San Francisco

Stabilizing their home came at a steep price. These residents no longer face the threat of possible eviction, but they now confront the well-disguised iron hand of the market wrapped in the velvet gloves of “affordability” and “fairness,” pitting them against efforts by their public financiers to force them into higher rents over time.

Interrupting Inequality Through Community Control of Land

Our belief is that community in CLTs emerges not from the simple fact of membership, but from the relationships, cooperative efforts—and disputes–of those occupying and making decisions over the land.

Settling Homeless Families in Vacant Homes

Take Back the Land broke into foreclosed, vacant homes, performed repairs, and housed homeless families in them. The most hopeful lesson to draw from the land occupation and the squatting activities is that pressure can be applied anywhere.
A family of four sit under an umbrella in front of the land trust home.

Community Ownership Redefines ‘Highest and Best Use’

The “highest and best use” of real estate should be the maximum fulfillment of social, environmental, and economic benefit for the greatest number of stakeholders including future generations.

Community Land Cooperatives Should Oversee Neighborhood Economic Development

This nonprofit is organizing a real estate investment cooperative for the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, with the exclusive purpose of incubating, funding, and assisting “community land cooperatives.”

Slow Building of Community on Lopez Island

Lopez Community Land Trust combined community control of land, permanent affordability, permaculture principles, a net-zero energy goal, green designs, individual empowerment and fun, into one ambitious housing development project.
The first community justice land trust tenants at Grace Townhomes. Photo courtesy of DHCD

Building Power for Community Control

Residents and institutions in a North Philadelphia neighborhood wanted to put the power of the land back into the hands of the community. The way we decided to do this was to create the Community Justice Land Trust and ensure neighborhood residents and tenants of CLT homes had seats on its board.

The Linchpin of a Just Housing System

A vision is rooted in the belief that housing is a human right, not a commodity to maximize profit. Homes For All believes it is possible to create a just housing system in which everyone has affordable and dignified housing.
Two people write down thoughts about what they think Chinatown's future should be.

Collective Ownership Is a Community Control Tool

A campaign pushed city government to begin the disposition process for a public parcel of land that is now proposed for a multi-use project that includes 171 units of 100 percent affordable housing.
A husband and wife stand in front of a fence along with their five children.

Community Control Gives Families Hope for the Future

Because we have our own home we have the liberty to dream, act, and influence our community. We have a unique opportunity as land trust homeowners as we are part of affordable homeownership today, tomorrow, and forever.
Members of a limited-equity housing cooperative in D.C. gather on the front steps in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Creating the Commons

The commons can be understood as a set of resources that have been de-commodified: that is, these are resources that are used to directly support life, rather than to extract a profit through sale on the market.

Controlling Land Collectively: The CLT Ground Lease Reimagined

Community control often gets conflated with affordability for neighborhoods seeing rising prices, and it’s obviously good to make land stay affordable. But affordability is not the same as democratic decision-making.

Community Is a Moving Target in Los Angeles

Empowerment is the ultimate response to displacement: perpetual affordability in a process that gives folks a stake in discussions and in an economy from which they are usually shut out.
A group of people stand outside their home, a housing cooperative in Maine.

The Power of Community to Segregate or Liberate

In order to successfully realize projects that serve the cause of social justice, community control must include strong leadership that actively cultivates the principles of inclusion, solidarity, and equity.
The entrance to The Village of Wilde Lake in Columbia, Maryland.

Resident Democracy by Design in Maryland

Democracy is messy and takes effort and time. Knowing my neighbors and being jointly responsible for our shared spaces make that effort worth our time and help make us better people, with skills in making decisions together and practice caring for each other.

Where the Disenfranchised Can Voice Their Opinions

Community control of land involves the constant process of inviting the most disenfranchised members of our community to voice their opinions and feedback on how the land is being used. The community for us consists of families who have been negatively affected by slumlords in inner-city Miami. 

The Gentrification Will Be Televised

The North Pole opens discussion between residents of gentrifying neighborhoods and elevates the personal stories and memories of those being displaced.