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DC Adopts Community Land Trust Approach to Avert Further Gentrification

October 9, 2017

In an effort to combat imminent gentrification in its east Anacostia River neighborhood, Washington, DC, is adopting a community land trust model to promote and ensure affordability in its less-developed neighborhoods. Prompted by the $45 million 11th Street Bridge Park project that will convert an abandoned freeway bridge into an aerial park “connecting the east and west sides of the Anacostia River with recreational open space that will span the length of three football fields,” the city hopes to use the community land trust model to offset the inevitable gentrification that will impact the previously disconnected and underinvested part of the city. A community land trust is a nonprofit organization that obtains and develops land on its own before removing the land from the private market through 99-year ground leases and pre-emptive purchase requirements that limit the resale price of a house. The trust owns the land, so the only value recouped by families upon sale is for improvements made on the home and a percentage of equity gain. This process helps keep land and home values at reasonable levels still affordable to local residents. The land trust movement is gathering steam in other parts of the country as well, seeing implementation in New York City (which launched a $1.65 million program this past July), Pittsburgh (which launched a community land trust in June), and Baltimore, where Mayor Catherine Pugh has endorsed the strategy as part of a proposed $40 million affordable housing effort. The national Black Lives Matter network and the New York City-based National Economics and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) are among the growing number of social justice groups advocating this approach. Nationally, there are now 330 community land trusts, up from 242 six years ago. Click here to read more.

Image courtesy of Nonprofit Quarterly.


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