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Making Community Land Trusts Happen, Here in New York City

On Friday, April 19th, Picture the Homeless co-convened a citywide Community Land Trust Summit, in partnership with tons of great folks like NEDAP, Hunter College, City College, Manhattan Community Board 11, and more.

Over 80 people attended, including housing developers, homeless people, urban planners, journalists, East Harlem residents, CLT staff, and elected officials from the city, state, and federal levels! As one PTH member remarked after the event, "to be truthful with you, I was blown away to witness the diversity of dynamic minds coming together for the common cause of community land trusts!"

Tom Angotti from Hunter College and Kendall Jackman from Picture the Homeless kicked off the event with a presentation on "CLT 101." Ken Wray of the Parodneck Foundation shared an exhaustive by-the-numbers case study that broke down the dollars-and-cents of how community land trusts could transform distressed buildings in East Harlem into decent, affordable, resident-controlled housing. In small group break-outs, participants built on existing work to outline policies and legislation that could be enacted to support the expansion of CLTs across the city, develop educational materials to help spread the word about the model, and outline a structure for a city-wide central server model, with locally-based CLTs developing according to the specifics of different communities.

We even reached consensus around pursuing the possibilities of an East Harlem pilot community land trust, endorsing a City policy to give community land trusts priority in the disposition of land over whose disposition the City has control or significant influence, and a core belief that the strong focus of any community land trust should be the benefit to those most in need, specifically household of low and very low income.

Moving this work forward, we need all voices in the choir - contact Sam at 646-314-6423 or, with any questions or ideas or interest in joining us in this exciting work. Moving forward, the Steering Committee which organized this summit, as well as its Working Groups, will further the work outlined here, and expand our membership with stakeholders from key housing and community development groups. We hope you'll stay tuned for updates about when those workgroups are meeting, and how you can plug in!