Friday Jul 21, 2023

Affordable housing is the key to stable, vibrant communities. Let’s build it back

We are all better off when people can afford their homes. Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are one way to expand affordable housing, but we need more homeowners to get on board.

Anna Zuevskaya, Executive Director, and Crystal Sheriff, Community Relations Manager, of the Asheville Buncombe County Land Trust explained the societal benefits of using community land trusts to provide affordable housing.

Community Land Trusts help provide permanent affordability to housing, so low-and-middle income families can buy homes. Homeowners get equity, so they can earn money on the sale of their homes and invest that in a nicer home.

Meanwhile, the original home only increase in value a small amount, so a new family in need of affordable housing can buy it. 

Here’s why it’s needed.

  • Owning land defines people’s value today. It gives us identity.
  • Where there is affordable housing, neighborhoods are stable. Where housing is run down, neighborhoods are not stable.
  • There is a direct correlation between the housing that was built by the Housing Authority starting in the 1960s, during urban renewal efforts, and the housing that was taken away from Black people.
  • Black people were told the move would be temporary and that they could return or buy a home somewhere else. 
  • They stayed in Housing Authority housing, and vibrant black neighborhoods disappeared.
  • The displacement is slow and silent — just like gentrification movements today — as upscale condominiums replace walk-up apartments and high-end retail replaces stores that cater to local tastes.
  • By taking away the chance to own a home, urban renewal made it difficult for Black people to establish an identity as anything other than a reflection of their poor neighborhood.

CLT’s need help because houses are expensive, and it takes time to build a community, 

  • The Asheville CLT received $1 million from the city to buy homes and land, but needed more because house prices went up.
  • It would be helpful if more home owners shared CLT’s mission to provide affordable housing and were willing to sell their land and write off the difference between the appraised value and the sales value.
  • AirBnB owners can donate a portion of their monthly proceeds to a CLT.
  • People can volunteer and donate to help CLT’s operate.

Background on Asheville Buncombe Community Land Trust

  • One of over 160 of community land trust organizations across America. There is probably one where you live.
  • Its goal is to establish permanently affordable residential, commercial, and community spaces that empower Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and low- to moderate-income residents to build social, economic, and cultural capital.
  • Community land trusts are nonprofit, community-based organizations which provide affordable housing in perpetuity by owning land and leasing it to those who live in houses built on that land.  
  • CLTs can be used for commercial space, multifamily rental housing, housing cooperatives, urban farms, community centers, playgrounds, or any other use the board sees fit.

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