Preserving Long-Term Housing Affordability while Revitalizing Neighborhoods: the Ascendancy of Community Land Trust

Preserving Long-Term Housing Affordability while Revitalizing Neighborhoods: the Ascendancy of Community Land Trust

During the last decade, Community Land Trust has been welcomed in many European countries by grassroots movements and policy makers alike as a valuable response to the increasing difficulties that a large portion of the population encountered to get access to decent and affordable housing. When trying to enter the housing market, people often face two obstacles. First, expensive private rent and even more high-priced individual private ownership have become out of reach for those who lack the financial power to afford it; secondly, the supply and quality of social housing has proven unable to meet the demand of a growing number of low-income people who seek access to it[1]. In spite of the lack of a long-term stable framework for the affordable housing sector in Europe,[2] a whole range of piece-meal solutions aimed at increasing the supply of affordable housing have been put in place through both public policy interventions at a State and regional level, and the activism of not-for-profit housing cooperatives, housing associations, and self-organized groups of people.

Especially concerned with the long-term affordability of housing for low- or moderate-income people, Community Land Trust has gained ascendancy among those solutions that are capable of responding to the pitfalls of the housing market and has consequently known an unprecedented spread throughout Europe during the last decade. Community Land Trust (also known by its acronym CLT) is a land ownership scheme capable of fostering housing long-term affordability while at the same time allowing the broad participation of the community involved[3]. Community Land Trust arrived on the scene in the United States in the late 1960s as an outgrowth of the Southern Civil Rights Movement and was originally used as a mechanism for African-American farmers to gain access to agricultural land[4]. Since then, CLT has steadily grown in importance across the United States, so far as it has been employed in urban and rural areas as a means to provide an alternative to low- and moderate- income people for affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization[5]. According to the National Community Land Trust Network (NCLTN), which represents the major association for CLTs in the United States[6], there were in 2011 “a total of 246 CLTs in the network with coverage in 45 states and probably about 6,000 homes in the land trusts’ hands across the country”[7].

Community Land Trust is a membership-based, non-profit organization chartered to hold and manage land in trust for the benefit of a given community. These three main elements – land, trust and community – are the core of the CLT model. As to the first element, land is held in trust by the CLT for the benefit of the community. Actually, the CLT acquires land through purchase or donation with an intention to retain title in perpetuity and to remove the land from the speculative market[8]. While permanently retaining title to the land, the CLT enters into long-term agreements with prospective low- or moderate-income residents, which are thus given ownership of buildings and improvements on the land. The result is a split between the ownership of land and improvements. As to the element of trust, stewardship or “trusteeship”[9] of the land for the long term is ensured by the CLT in different ways. Firstly, the ground lease set out a range of mutually agreed restrictions between the CLT and residents, such as resale-price, buyer-eligibility, occupancy, and use restrictions, which ensure that homes remain affordable for future buyers over time. Secondly, the CLT does not disappear once homes are eventually sold by leaseholders; on the contrary, CLT may retain an option to repurchase the buildings located on the land when residents wish to sell them and, in the event a resident defaults on her mortgage, the CLT may have a right to step in to prevent foreclosure[10]. As to the third element – community – the democratic governance structure of the CLT reflects the idea that CLT operates within a given community (a single neighborhood or an entire city) and that all members of the community should have a degree of control over the way the land is managed. First of all, membership of the CLT is open to anyone living within the boundaries of the community and not only to residents, each group having the responsibility of electing one third of the governing body. Moreover, the board of trustees – normally called Board of Directors – is tripartite and includes representatives of (i) residents of the trust-owned land, (ii) members of the community who do not lease land from the CLT, and (iii) other people who are meant to represent the public interest, such as public officials and non-profit organizations and funders.

The CLT model, including all the features described above, has been given legal recognition into the federal Housing and Community Development Act of 1992, where it is defined as

“a community housing development organization […]

(1) that is not sponsored by a for-profit organization;

(2) that is established to carry out the activities under paragraph (3);

(3) that:

(A) acquires parcels of land, held in perpetuity, primarily for conveyance under long-term ground leases;

(B) transfers ownership of any structural improvements located on such leased parcels to the lessees; and

(C) retains a preemptive option to purchase any such structural improvement at a price determined by formula that is designed to ensure that the improvement remains affordable to low- and moderate-income families in perpetuity;

(4) whose corporate membership is open to any adult resident of a particular geographic area specified in the bylaws of the organization; and

(5) whose board of directors:

(A) includes a majority of members who are elected by the corporate membership; and

(B) is composed of equal numbers of

(i) lessees pursuant to paragraph (3)(B);

(ii) corporate members who are not lessee, and

(iii) any other category of persons described in the bylaws of the organization[11].

 

Since then, CLTs have steadily spread throughout the United States. The expansion of the CLT movement has been pushed by different factors. First, non-profit organizations have committed themselves to help groups to identify and reclaim vacant land and turning it into a community resource, as is the case for 596 Acres. Secondly, CLT has been increasingly welcomed by local administrations as a valuable response to the shortfalls of the public housing market. An example of this is the Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) recently issued by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), whose objective is to identify qualified groups who are interested in forming a CLT[12]. The formal recognition of CLT by legislation, the growth of a national CLT network, along with the increased attention of public authorities, have also favored the diffusion of the CLT model outside the United States. Along these lines, both groups and local authorities in several European countries have attempted to adapt the CLT model to national contexts and promote its use, being attracted by its ability to preserve long-term housing affordability while triggering neighborhood revitalization, both of which are much-needed in large European urban centers.

 

 

[1] For a thorough analysis of the situation of the housing market and related policy development in each of the European member States, see The State of Housing in the EU 2015, Housing Europe, the European Federation for Public, Cooperative and Social Housing
Brussels, available for download at http://www.housingeurope.eu/resource-468/the-state-of-housing-in-the-eu-2015 (last accessed on December 26th, 2016).

[2] This is one of the key findings of « The State of Housing in the EU 2015 ». A summary of the report is available for download at http://www.housingeurope.eu/resource-468/the-state-of-housing-in-the-eu-2015 (last accessed on December 27th, 2016).

[3] Its first advocates described CLT as “a social mechanism which has as its purpose the resolution of the fundamental questions of allocation, continuity and exchange”: The Community Land Trust. A guide to a New Model of Land Tenure in America, International Independence Institute, Center for Community Economic Development, 1972 (reprint 2007). In the book, the basic structure of CLT is also carefully explained.

[4] J. E. Davis, Origins and Evolution of the Community Land Trust in the United States, in J. E. Davis (ed.), The Community Land Trust Reader, The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2010, p. 3-47.

[5] According to Abramovitz, the reasons for the increased emphasis on affordability in the US are to be linked to “the massive number of low- and moderate-income rental units built under various subsidy programs in the late 1960s and early 1970s that have been in danger of being lost as affordable housing through mortgage prepayment. […] In addition, the rapid housing price inflation experienced in many parts of the country during the 1980s further strained the ability of the private housing market to sustain an adequate supply of affordable units”: D. M. Abramowitz, Community Land Trusts and Ground Leases, in 1 J. Affordable Hous. & Cmty. Dev. L. 5 1991-1992, p. 5.

[6] Information about the CLT network in the United States are available at http://cltnetwork.org

[7] See S. Soifer, “Community Land Trust”, in The Encyclopedia of Housing, 2012, p. 2.

[8] “A Community Land Trust takes land off the speculative market and places it in a regional, membership-based, non-profit corporation”: The Community Land Trust Handbook, Institute for Community Economics, 1983.

[9] J. E. Davis, Origins and Evolution of the Community Land Trust in the United States, cit., p. 18-19.

[10] For details concerning the functioning of CLT, see the CLT Technical Manual, available at http://cltnetwork.org/2011-clt-technical-manual/.

[11]See Housing and Community Development Act of 1992.

[12] http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/developers/request-for-proposals/CLT-RFEI.page

 

 

Fabiana Bettini, Postdoctoral Researcher, Sciences Po Law School, Paris

This article is drawn from a broader research conducted in the framework of the ERC-funded project “INCLUSIVE” (2014-2019) led by Professor Séverine Dusollier and hosted by the Sciences Po Law School, Paris

 

——————————————————————

Nell’ultimo decennio il modello del Community Land Trust (CLT), sviluppatosi negli Stati Uniti, ha iniziato a diffondersi in Europa grazie all’impegno della società civile e di diverse amministrazioni e policy makers. I CLT offrono una valida risposta alle crescenti difficoltà che una un’ampia porzione della popolazione incontra nell’individuare soluzioni abitative vivibili ed economicamente accessibili.

Building Affordable Futures: The Role of Plank Road Community Land Bank and Trust

Building Affordable Futures: The Role of Plank Road Community Land Bank and Trust

 

Urban affordability is an issue cities all over the world grapple with. Emerging from first the foreclosure crisis in 2008 and now COVID-19, many cities are facing an ongoing and more severe problem: the lack of quality affordable housing. Compounded by unemployment, structural inequity and inequality, and evictions, many political and community leaders are looking toward alternative approaches to housing in urban areas. In response, the concepts around varios community ownership models have emerged as a transformative strategy to advance an equitable recovery. The Plank Road Community Land Bank and Trust is a novel institution developed by Professors Sheila Foster & Clayton Gillette, along with Project Manager Manny Patole that focuses on co-creation and co-governance of local community assets to facilitate community-driven economic development. The growing work around alternative equity models for affordable housing provide cities a new opportunity.

 

CCBR commenced its collaboration with BBR as a key partner in the Imagine Plank Road master planning project in Spring 2019. As an integral part of the planning team, we played a crucial role in facilitating extensive community and stakeholder consultations, extracting foundational values that would guide the development of Plank Road. These insights not only shaped the plan’s benchmarks but also influenced specific catalytic development projects. The planning team prioritized engagement with residents, businesses, and essential stakeholders, employing various channels such as surveys, immersive in-person events like a food truck roundup and street festival, a community roundtable, and collaboration with trained community ambassadors. The culmination of these efforts was presented in a community town hall at Southern University in November 2019, drawing a substantial audience, both in-person and remotely. Despite the challenges posed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there was a silver lining: Build Baton Rouge secured a $5 million JPMorgan Chase 2020 AdvancingCities grant in October 2020. This marked a significant milestone for the Plank Road master plan’s implementation. Collaborating with TruFund Financial, Metromorphosis, and the Co-City Baton Rouge Project, Build Baton Rouge aims to utilize these funds for programs that combat blight, foster small business growth, and preserve housing affordability in North Baton Rouge.

 

Building on the work of Center for Community Progress and Grounded Solutions and many organizations globally, CCBR wanted to provide a unique approach to the message echoed throughout the master planning process: we need affordable space and place. Many wanted affordable housing but it didn’t stop there… they wanted a more comprehensive solution that would provide additional assets that make a house part of a community. Things like parks, sidewalks, small businesses, better infrastructure, and overall agency on what that looks like. CCBR set forth on creating something new and something different that would encapsulate these ideas. That became the Plank Road Community Land Bank and Trust. To understand the PR CLBT first you should understand what is a land bank, a land trust, and how this is a first of its kind.

 

The shared equity model is a housing approach that aims to increase access to affordable homeownership by allowing multiple stakeholders, such as individuals, nonprofit organizations, and government entities, to collectively invest in and share the equity of a property. This model typically involves a partnership between a homebuyer and a housing provider, where the home buyer purchases a portion of the equity in a home while the housing provider retains ownership of the remaining portion. As the property appreciates in value, the homebuyer and the housing provider share the equity gains proportionally based on their initial investment percentages. Shared equity models often incorporate mechanisms to ensure long-term affordability, such as resale restrictions or buyback options, thereby preserving the affordability of the property for future buyers and promoting sustainable homeownership opportunities for individuals with lower incomes. A land bank and a community land trust are leveraged in shared equity models to in real estate and urban development build up quality affordable housing but they serve different purposes and operate under different structures.

 

Generally speaking, a land bank is a governmental or nonprofit entity that acquires, manages, and repurposes vacant, abandoned, or tax-delinquent properties for future development or community revitalization. Land banks typically focus on acquiring and holding properties for strategic purposes, such as eliminating blight, promoting affordable housing, or supporting economic development initiatives. They often work closely with local governments and community stakeholders to identify and prioritize properties for acquisition, redevelopment, or reuse. They may also collaborate with developers, nonprofits, and community organizations to implement revitalization projects that align with the community’s long-term goals and vision for the area.

 

Community Land Trust (CLT) however, is a community land trust is a nonprofit organization that acquires and holds land in a trust for the benefit of the community. The primary goal of a community land trust is to ensure long-term affordable housing and community development by separating the ownership of land from the ownership of the structures built on the land. In a CLT, residents or tenants typically own the structures (such as houses or buildings) on the land, while the trust retains ownership of the land itself. This model allows for the creation and preservation of permanently affordable housing, as the trust can control the resale and leasing of the land to maintain affordability for future residents.

 

Land banks and CLTs are often perceived as antithetical tools that may not work or compliment each other. Ironically, these two entities are sometimes conflated as one and the same. Neither perception, however, reflects reality. After the 2008 foreclosure crisis, the Center for Community Progress (US convening authority on land banks) and Grounded Solutions Network (US convening authority on CLTs) saw an opportunity to educate the public on the differences between the two as well as how these entities can coordinate to optimize equitable development outcomes. (For additional information, see the National Land Bank and CLT Map) Taking it a step further beyond the two entities having institutional agreements, a community land bank and trust is a hybrid approach that combines elements of both a land bank and a community land trust. This model integrates the strategies of acquiring, holding, and managing land, as well as promoting long-term affordability and community development. It aims to address a range of community needs, including affordable housing, sustainable development, and the revitalization of distressed or underutilized properties within a locality.

 

The Plank Road CLBT it operates as a nonprofit organization that collaborates with local governments, community stakeholders, and residents to acquire and manage land for various community purposes. It may acquire vacant, abandoned, or tax-delinquent properties with the aim of repurposing them for affordable housing, community gardens, parks, or other public amenities. The PR CLBT (working) mission is to  Contribute to the revitalization of the Plank Road community by putting vacant properties, vacant land, and tax-delinquent properties …back into productive use in a manner that promotes neighborhood stabilization and anti-displacement of existing residents.

 

The development of the institutional design, articles of incorporation, bylaws, operating documents, model land leases and budgeting is and on-going, multi-pronged approach that integrates legal scholarship, interviews with subject matter experts, and desk research to understand industry best practices and challenges in key areas: Institutional Leadership, Operating Processes and Procedures, Composition and Integration of the Community Advisory Board, Strategic Roadmap, and Timeline. The process yielded great information that aided the development of the PR CLBT.

 

The complexities arising from the amalgamation of Napoleonic, Common Law, and Civil Law codes have introduced an unexpected challenge in the clearance of property titles. Specifically, the timing and conditions for the initiation of prescription on these properties pose a notable hurdle. In essence, the countdown for these VAD properties only commences when the property is in the possession of a non-state entity. However, it’s important to note that only entities sanctioned by the state are permitted to function as a land bank, and no independent entity can serve as one. Consequently, the PR CLBT acts as the required non-state entity, triggering the commencement of the countdown. This allows us to initiate the title-clearing process.

 

As of October 2023 the PR CLBT is a fully incorporated 501(c)(3) with an interim board, established articles of incorporation and bylaws. Looking ahead to the first quarter of 2024 the PR CLBT is researching innovative financing options and processes that will attract real estate developers to this work and researching land leases that incorporate the values and innovative design of the PR CLBT. The PR CLBT and its local institutional partners will also convene its first Community Advisory Board to review the PR CLBT processes and procedures as well as the plans of the institution for the next six to 12 months.

 

The PR CLBT should be seen as a new tool in the toolbox of cities experiencing similar issues to Baton Rouge: to serve as a comprehensive mechanism for promoting community-driven development, fostering affordable housing initiatives, and addressing various social and economic challenges within a specific locality. By combining the strengths of both land banks and community land trusts, this model aims to create sustainable and inclusive communities while ensuring the responsible management and use of land resources for the benefit of the residents.

Co-Creating Urban Affordability: The Plank Road Community Land Bank and Trust

Co-Creating Urban Affordability: The Plank Road Community Land Bank and Trust

Manny Patole, LLM, MUP

Co-City Fellow and Project Manager, Co-City Baton Rouge

 

Urban affordability is an issue cities all over the world grapple with. Emerging from first the foreclosure crisis in 2008 and now COVID-19, many cities are facing an ongoing and more severe problem: the lack of quality affordable housing. Compounded by unemployment, structural inequity and inequality, and evictions, many political and community leaders are looking toward alternative approaches to housing in urban areas. In response, the concepts around varios community ownership models have emerged as a transformative strategy to advance an equitable recovery. The Plank Road Community Land Bank and Trust is a novel institution developed by Professors Sheila Foster & Clayton Gillette, along with Project Manager Manny Patole that focuses on co-creation and co-governance of local community assets to facilitate community-driven economic development. The growing work around alternative equity models for affordable housing provide cities a new opportunity.

 

Context

 

LabGov Georgetown (LabGov) and the Marron Institute of Urban Management at NYU (Marron) have partnered with Build Baton Rouge (BBR), the redevelopment authority of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to pilot a multistakeholder approach to economic revitalization in the Plank Road corridor of Baton Rouge in 2018. The project proposes a novel approach to address economically distressed neighborhoods and cities using the “Co-City Protocol” (the “Protocol”).  The Protocol has been tested most extensively  in cities outside of the U.S. After conducting a Rockefeller-sponsored workshop in Bellagio that focused on American cities, LabGov partnered with Marron and BBR to introduce the Protocol in the U.S.  The Baton Rouge project, titled Co-City Baton Rouge (CCBR), will implement, test, and evaluate neighborhood scale governance innovation. LabGov and Marron anticipate that we will subsequently adapt the Protocol as appropriate to reflect our experience with Baton Rouge and undertake similar projects in other economically distressed U.S. cities.

 

Plank Road is one of the most blighted corridors in Baton Rouge yet remains a significant anchor for the neighborhoods of North Baton Rouge.  The heart of Plank Road runs through the 70805 zip code where many of Baton Rouge’s social and economic challenges are concentrated. The neighborhoods around Plank Road are predominately black and poor, a reflection of Baton Rouge’s deeply entrenched racial and spatial stratification. 70805 is 93% black and reflects the consequences of historical patterns of racial segregation and racialized poverty. The area underperforms state averages in many categories. The area has the City-Parish’s highest concentration of zero-car households and, accordingly, its second highest transit ridership. The purpose behind this small area master plan is to restore a vibrant and active area that has been structurally disinvested.

 

CCBR started off as a collaborative partner with BBR on the Imagine Plank Road master planning project starting in Spring 2019. As part of the planning team, we helped lead in-depth community and stakeholder consultation which provided the guiding values for the development of Plank Road and shaped the benchmarks for the plan as well as specific catalytic development projects. The planning team informed and engaged residents, businesses and other key stakeholders during the process and learned about their lived experience and aspirations for the community through surveys, in-person experiential events, including a food truck roundup and street festival, a community roundtable, and collaboration with trained community ambassadors. The work was presented in November 2019 at a community town hall held at Southern University with hundreds in attendance and many more watching from home. Although 2020 marked the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic it also provided good news for the project: In October 2020 Build Baton Rouge was selected to receive a $5 million JPMorgan Chase 2020 AdvancingCities grant to implement the Plank Road masterplan. Build Baton Rouge partnered with TruFund Financial, Metromorphosis, and the Co-City Baton Rouge Project to implement the Plank Road masterplan through programs that will eliminate blight, grow small businesses, and preserve housing affordability in North Baton Rouge.

 

Background

The application of the Co-City protocol in Baton Rouge required some work in understanding a few main concepts: co-creation, value capture, and shared equity.

 

Co-creation and co-governance are collaborative approaches to urban development and governance that emphasize inclusive and participatory decision-making processes involving various stakeholders, including residents, local businesses, community organizations, and governmental bodies. Co-creation entails the joint development and design of urban assets and services, integrating diverse perspectives and ideas to address the specific needs and aspirations of communities. On the other hand, co-governance emphasizes the shared management and stewardship of these assets, promoting transparent and equitable decision-making among stakeholders. These concepts complement each other by fostering a culture of active engagement, mutual responsibility, and collective action within communities, leading to more effective and sustainable urban development outcomes that reflect the shared values and aspirations of the local population. Co-creation encourages diverse inputs in the planning and design stages, while co-governance ensures that the management and implementation of projects reflect the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders, ultimately fostering a sense of ownership and shared responsibility in the development of urban environments.

 

Value capture refers to a range of public financing strategies and mechanisms that allow governments and communities to capture a portion of the increased land and property values resulting from public investments, infrastructure improvements, or other development activities. This concept involves harnessing the economic gains generated by public interventions and using them to finance the costs of infrastructure, public services, or community projects. Value capture mechanisms can include taxes, impact fees, development charges, land value taxation, special assessments, and the creation of development districts. By capturing a portion of the increased land value, governments can reinvest these funds back into the community, thus ensuring that public investments contribute to sustainable and equitable urban development, infrastructure provision, and the enhancement of public services.

 

The shared equity model is a housing approach that aims to increase access to affordable homeownership by allowing multiple stakeholders, such as individuals, nonprofit organizations, and government entities, to collectively invest in and share the equity of a property. This model typically involves a partnership between a homebuyer and a housing provider, where the home buyer purchases a portion of the equity in a home while the housing provider retains ownership of the remaining portion. As the property appreciates in value, the homebuyer and the housing provider share the equity gains proportionally based on their initial investment percentages. Shared equity models often incorporate mechanisms to ensure long-term affordability, such as resale restrictions or buyback options, thereby preserving the affordability of the property for future buyers and promoting sustainable homeownership opportunities for individuals with lower incomes.

 

The efficacy of these terms is not looking at them in silos rather how to use Co-creation, co-governance, value capture, and shared equity as interconnected concepts that, when implemented collectively, can enhance local economic development:

 

  1. Co-creation encourages active participation and collaboration among stakeholders in the design and development of urban projects. When applied to economic development initiatives, it ensures that the local community’s needs and aspirations are considered, leading to more relevant and sustainable projects. Co-creation can lead to the creation of businesses, services, and infrastructure that are tailored to the specific demands of the community, thereby fostering economic growth.
  2. Co-governance promotes transparency, accountability, and shared decision-making among stakeholders, including local government, businesses, and community members. This inclusive governance model ensures that economic development strategies are developed and executed with broad community input, reducing the risk of favoring specific interest groups or neglecting the needs of marginalized populations.
  3. Value capture mechanisms can provide a sustainable funding source for economic development initiatives. By capturing a portion of the increased land and property values resulting from these projects, local governments can reinvest these funds into further economic development activities, infrastructure improvements, or public services, thereby amplifying the impact of their investments.
  4. Shared equity in housing and local businesses can increase economic inclusivity and create more stable and resilient local economies. By providing access to affordable homeownership and supporting small businesses through shared equity models, individuals with lower incomes have a greater opportunity to build wealth and contribute to the local economy. These models help address economic disparities and ensure a more equitable distribution of economic benefits within the community.

 

The co-creation and co-governance facilitate community-driven economic development, while value capture ensures sustainable funding, and shared equity models promote economic inclusivity and stability. When these approaches are integrated into a comprehensive strategy, they can lead to more robust and equitable local economic development.

 

Project

 

Building on the work of Center for Community Progress and Grounded Solutions and many organizations globally, CCBR wanted to provide a unique approach to the message echoed throughout the master planning process: we need affordable space and place. Many wanted affordable housing but it didn’t stop there… they wanted a more comprehensive solution that would provide additional assets that make a house part of a community. Things like parks, sidewalks, small businesses, better infrastructure, and overall agency on what that looks like. CCBR set forth on creating something new and something different that would encapsulate these ideas. That became the Plank Road Community Land Bank and Trust. To understand the PR CLBT first you should understand what is a land bank, a land trust, and how this is a first of its kind.

A land bank and a community land trust are both mechanisms used in real estate and urban development to address community needs, but they serve different purposes and operate under different structures.

Courtesy of Center for Community Progress

 

Land Bank:

  • A land bank is a governmental or nonprofit entity that acquires, manages, and repurposes vacant, abandoned, or tax-delinquent properties for future development or community revitalization. Land banks typically focus on acquiring and holding properties for strategic purposes, such as eliminating blight, promoting affordable housing, or supporting economic development initiatives.
  • Land banks often work closely with local governments and community stakeholders to identify and prioritize properties for acquisition, redevelopment, or reuse. They may also collaborate with developers, nonprofits, and community organizations to implement revitalization projects that align with the community’s long-term goals and vision for the area.

 

Courtesy of Center for Community Progress

 

Community Land Trust (CLT):

  • A community land trust is a nonprofit organization that acquires and holds land in a trust for the benefit of the community. The primary goal of a community land trust is to ensure long-term affordable housing and community development by separating the ownership of land from the ownership of the structures built on the land.
  • In a community land trust, residents or tenants typically own the structures (such as houses or buildings) on the land, while the trust retains ownership of the land itself. This model allows for the creation and preservation of permanently affordable housing, as the trust can control the resale and leasing of the land to maintain affordability for future residents.

 

Land banks and CLTs are often perceived as antithetical tools that may not work or compliment each other. Ironically, these two entities are sometimes conflated as one and the same. Neither perception, however, reflects reality. After the 2008 foreclosure crisis, the Center for Community Progress (US convening authority on land banks) and Grounded Solutions Network (US convening authority on CLTs) saw an opportunity to educate the public on the differences between the two as well as how these entities can coordinate to optimize equitable development outcomes. (For additional information, see the National Land Bank and CLT Map)

 

Courtesy of Center for Community Progress

 

Taking it a step further beyond the two entities having institutional agreements, a community land bank and trust is a hybrid approach that combines elements of both a land bank and a community land trust. This model integrates the strategies of acquiring, holding, and managing land, as well as promoting long-term affordability and community development. It aims to address a range of community needs, including affordable housing, sustainable development, and the revitalization of distressed or underutilized properties within a locality.

Generally speaking, this approach incorporates the community land trust approach by separating the ownership of land from the ownership of structures built on the land, ensuring long-term affordability and community control. Through the community land trust component, the organization can facilitate the development and management of affordable housing units while maintaining the land’s community ownership and preserving its affordability for future generations.

In the case of the Plank Road CLBT it operates as a nonprofit organization that collaborates with local governments, community stakeholders, and residents to acquire and manage land for various community purposes. It may acquire vacant, abandoned, or tax-delinquent properties with the aim of repurposing them for affordable housing, community gardens, parks, or other public amenities.

 

The development of the institutional design, articles of incorporation, bylaws, operating documents, model land leases and budgeting is multi pronged approach of Legal scholarship, Interviews, Desk Research to understand industry best practices and challenges in key areas:

  • Institutional Design, Processes and Procedures
  • Board of Director composition
  • Role and Composition of Community Advisory Boards
  • Organizational purposes
  • Overall Innovations

 

The process yielded great information that aided the development of the PR CLBT:

  • Examples researched have limited formalized relationships between CLT’s and LB’s
  • Clear roles, responsibilities, and institutional governance very important
  • PR CLBT Board composition should be well thought out and discussed before codified
  • Community Advisory Board participation a valuable connection with the community at large
  • Property transfer process between institutional entities needs to be clear
  • PR CLBT would be the first of its kind institution in the USA and perhaps globally.
  • PR CLBT would be multi-use, not just focused on housing but many other community needs
  • Part of the model is community capacity-building, as has been done elsewhere

 

The PR CLBT (working) mission is to  Contribute to the revitalization of the Plank Road community by putting vacant properties, vacant land, and tax-delinquent properties …back into productive use in a manner that promotes neighborhood stabilization and anti-displacement of existing residents. As of October 2023 the PR CLBT is a fully incorporated 501(c)(3) with an interim board, established articles of incorporation and bylaws. As it moves forward, the PR CLBT is researching innovative financing options and processes that will attract real estate developers to this work and researching land leases that incorporate the values and innovative design of the PR CLBT.

The PR CLBT should be seen as a new tool in the toolbox of cities experiencing similar issues to Baton Rouge: to serve as a comprehensive mechanism for promoting community-driven development, fostering affordable housing initiatives, and addressing various social and economic challenges within a specific locality. By combining the strengths of both land banks and community land trusts, this model aims to create sustainable and inclusive communities while ensuring the responsible management and use of land resources for the benefit of the residents.

 

We owe a great deal of gratitude to our research assistants from LSU School of Law (Demetrius Causer), NYU Wagner School of Public Service (Faisah Barlas, Maya Portillo, & Naquita Goldston), NYU School of Law (Krystle Okafor), the numerous land banks and CLTs who shared their expertise, the subject matter experts from Center for Community Progress and Grounded Solutions, the institutional support fromBuild Baton Rouge, The Huey and Angelina Wilson FoundationNYU Marron Institute of Urban Management,, and the shared lived experience of the local communities we worked with in Plank Road. Without their guidance, knowledge, and spirit, the project would not be where it is today.

Repurposing Food Waste For More Sustainable Community

Repurposing Food Waste For More Sustainable Community

Repurposing Food Waste For More Sustainable Community

No hunger, from waste to wellness, transformational impact, community connection, resource sharing

 

By Joyce Chow, The Centre for Civil Society and Governance, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

 

Hong Kong is one of the richest cities in the world. In 2020, 23.6% of the city’s population (i.e. 1.65 million people) were poor, with poverty rate on the rise. Hong Kong’s Gini coefficient stood at 0.54, which was at a 45 year high, indicating serious income inequality. According to the Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2020, nearly 45% of the total elderly population (about 583,600 individuals) were identified as poor; their poverty rate was more than double that of the overall population, largely because they were no longer able to earn an income. In addition, single-parent families and new arrival households are particularly vulnerable.

 

Poverty is not just a problem of inadequate income; it is a multidimensional social phenomenon associated with vulnerability, risk and social exclusion. Food is often the item people choose to cut back on to pay for other expenses such as rent, medical expenses and children’s educational needs. Lack of food and poor nutrition weakens a person’s health; food insecurity often causes stress among individuals.

 

Managing Food Waste: A Shared Repsonsbility?

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), 1.3 billion tonnes of food were wasted globally every year. In fact, food waste contributed to 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and was a considerable driver of global climate change since energy and resources were needed to rear, grow, process, package, transport, store, cook and dispose of food.

 

Over 5.6 million tonnes of municipal solid waste were disposed of at the landfills of Hong Kong in 2021. Food waste made up the largest share, accounting for 30% of the total – around 1.25 million tonnes. This meant about 3,437 tonnes of food was thrown away and ended up in landfill every day. Despite this enormous waste of food, many of the city’s poor and disadvantaged citizens, ironically, cannot afford healthy and nutritious meals.

 

Food assistance and food rescue initiatives in Hong Kong emerged in the early 2000s. Some organisations purchased food and distributed it to those in need. Others rescued food from different sources and repurposed it. Some organisations also provided food vouchers for recipients to use at markets and restaurants. There were, however, daunting challenges involved in these operations of rescuing food and providing food assistance.

 

To ensure a high-quality food rescue and food assistance programme, it is necessary to 1) have a management structure that is flexible and versatile enough to cope with unexpected circumstances and capture emerging opportunities; 2) have a combination of expertise that allows for effective programme management; and 3) have the right logistical set up to ensure not only food safety but also service design that can meet the actual needs of the service users. Building upon these management and operational imperatives, to scale up the programme, the team needs to 4) gain and maintain trust with food and financial donors to sustain and grow their operations; 5) maintain close collaboration with charity partners to extend its reach and be in touch with community needs; 6) internalize its vision and values to become part of the ethos of the organization, and 7) communicate its vision, work, and achievements to various stakeholders to garner more support and grow the movement.

 

Found in 2011, Food Angel is neither the first nor the only organisation that collects edible food surplus and distributes it to those in need. However, they are one of the few organisations that is engaged in the entire process, from rescuing food, to storing it, preparing and cooking the meals and delivering it to those in need. Food Angel fulfils the management and operational imperatives required for a high-quality food rescue and assistance programme through different strategies.

 

Wellness of the Community Comes First  

Food Angel is committed to two objectives – rescuing food to feed those in need, and raising awareness on food waste, poverty, and hunger. Their focus on elderly in poverty resonates with many as the Chinese culture places great importance on respecting and caring for the elderly. This clear focus on the theme of food anchors the work of Food Angel and guides their programme design and development. To enable themselves to further reduce food waste and provide more meals, Food Angel continued to diversify and expand their operation to cover more varieties of food. For example, they acquired trucks and storage spaces equipped with refrigeration facilities to receive frozen food donations; established their own kitchen to handle and prepare a wide variety of foods; operated a sizable logistics team, enabling them to collect excessive cooked meals from suppliers and deliver them in time to charity partners for distribution.

 

Leveraging Collaboration for Growth and Success

Since its establishment, Food Angel had grown from the four-member team to having around 100 full-time staff and a further 150 part-time staff. Despite this growth, their management structure has remained relatively flat and has managed to remain agile and flexibly when responding to rapidly evolving context and needs.

 

Food Angel’s prime concern was the effectiveness of their interventions in meeting the needs of their service users. They did have certain guidelines, such as service users’ selection criteria, but they did not put in place rigid rules of who can receive help from them, or cumbersome policies which would limit the scope of their work or slow down decision making. In fact, teams did not have individual key performance indicators or service targets to chase after, and this seemed to have fostered collaboration across teams rather than to fight for resources across teams. Their structure allowed them to respond quickly to requests, opportunities and changing contexts.

 

Not only did Food Angel try to meet the needs of the service users, they also tried their best to meet the needs of their stakeholders. A donor and a charity partner shared that Food Angel treated them as partners. They responded in a timely manner, considered the partners’ needs, and their attitude was always to find solutions together.

 

Building Community Partnership Network for Shared Goals 

Food Angel knew what they need to further scale up and they had access to resources to make it happen. With a good grasp of what the on-the-ground needs and the latest food technology trends were, the Food Angel team knew what initiatives they wanted to embark on next and need funding for. They were then able to convince donors to support their cause because they were articulate about their vision and mission, had a solid operation, a stellar reputation and a clear and convincing plan forward.

 

In addition to securing resources required to scale up, Food Angel had also been successful in building partnerships with over 200 charity partners. These charity partners were crucial in helping Food Angel reach more people in need and obtain first-hand information about what the users’ needs were in different areas. It has also helped Food Angel to extend its coverage beyond Sham Shui Po area, reaching 18 districts.

 

Food Angel also embraced the concept of shared resources and collaborated with four schools to launch the Community Canteen programme. Not only does the programme make good use of the auditoriums or playgrounds by turning them into community canteen to serve free meals to an additional 490 individuals in need, students and parents of the schools help distribute the meals, which is a great opportunity to foster cross-generational interactions and for them to better understand the social issues involved.

 

In terms of daily operation, Food Angel requires 200 volunteers per day. In year 2019-2020, 63,668 service hours were generated by the volunteers. The volunteers themselves also became ambassadors of the organisation, further widening the support network.

 

Food Angel is now contributing to the food rescue and food assistance ecosystem by being a Strategic Partner of Food-Co, which is a platform that matches food donors, charities, volunteers and food recipients to direct surplus food to those in need. In doing so, Food Angel is maximizing its impact by facilitating the movement to continue to grow.

 

Creating an Up-close Experience for Transformational Impact

Food Angel conducted comprehensive evaluation of their services every two years. On top of gathering necessary data to understand their performance, Food Angel also uses this opportunity to strengthen their bond with their service users. All Food Angel staff including the chefs are responsible for conducting user satisfaction surveys. This process allows all staff to be in touch with the very reasons the organisation exists, which serves to strengthen the staff’s buy-in. The service users also feel respected and treasured through these interactions.

 

Food Angel volunteers could learn, experience, act, and see the impact of their contribution. Food Angel is located in Sham Shui Po, a visibly poorer neighbourhood. This helped to demonstrate the context and needs of the service users. As the elderly were being served, the volunteers could see the elderly appreciate the meals and their efforts. Food Angel was able to create a strong sense of community and belonging through their thoughtful interactions with the elderly and this feeling is infectious. The intangible value of “with love” was made tangible at Food Angel and it made volunteers want to return to help again.

 

Food Angel places great emphasis on education as they believe “it is the most effective way to reduce food waste at source and build a caring community”. They promote the value of cherishing food and caring for the disadvantaged by engaging with schools, companies and the general public. Their educational programmes at Foodstep Journey, Hong Kong’s first experience centre on the topic launched in 2017 were designed to be highly interactive and fun so that the participants would take these issues to heart. They also organised a lot of promotional events which engage the public and generate media attention to widen their impact.

 

Improved Wellness, More Smiles

In addition to having access to nutritious meals, service users of Food Angel generally also experience improved wellbeing as they save on time and money, and improve on emotional wellbeing, health, and social connections. An elderly informed us by having access to meals at Food Angel, he could spend his spare time doing exercises at the park. Food Angel estimated that elderly spends HKD1,900 on food per month. By receiving meals from Food Angel, this cost can be spared to meet other needs.

 

Another elderly said she and her neighbours did not use to greet each other, but because they all took food at Food Angel’s community centre, they started greeting each other, and she appreciated that. Moreover, the volunteers and staff use the meal distribution as an opportunity to check on how the service users are doing and whether follow up is required. This is particularly valuable when there are hidden cases of elderly in need of additional support.

 

Their volunteer programme is highly successful. The enthusiasm of staff and volunteers and their attentive care for the elderly successfully created a sense of belonging. This helped build a connection among people and made them want to volunteer repeatedly. For Food Angel, the volunteers are not only vital to its operations. They also act as its ambassadors, sharing their experience and knowledge on the issues of food waste and hunger with their families and friends.

 

Looking at the figures, Food Angel produced over 20,000 nutritionally balanced meals and over 11,000 food packs per week currently, covering around 30,000 service users. With the introduction of cook-chill technology, these numbers are set to rise, covering a greater number of people in the future.

 

Food Angel managed to bring different stakeholders including donors (food and financial), volunteers, service users, charity partners, students, corporates together to work towards a common goal. It is a demonstration of effective partnerships. They also created momentum around reducing food waste. This increased the readiness of stakeholders from food related industries to consider donating food.

 

Building collaborations at the peri-urban interface: brokering to support community-led revitalisation

Building collaborations at the peri-urban interface: brokering to support community-led revitalisation

By Williams, J.M., Chu, V.H.Y., Lam. W.F., and Law, W.W.Y.

The Centre for Civil Society and Governance, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

 

Worldwide, rural areas are experiencing significant changes due to urbanisation and globalisation.  Many rural areas have experienced, often drastic, decline of populations and farmlands, the abandonment of rural housing and the degradation of public infrastructure and other services (Walser & Anderlik, 2004; Bjorna & Aarsaether, 2009; Stead, 2011; McGreevy, 2012; Li et al., 2014; Williams et al., 2021).  It is only more recently that the importance of revitalising rural areas due to their role in underpinning the development of sustainability models and ability to support societal health and wellbeing has been recognised (Williams et al. 2021).

Concurrent to the widespread decline of rural areas, rural spaces are becoming increasingly connected with urban areas due to the increasingly interconnected and globalised contemporary world.  The result is peri-urban space, which benefits from improved public infrastructure and access to a larger pool of skilled workers.  Meanwhile, however, the area’s natural resources and traditional livelihoods maybe eroded alongside its traditional governance systems, leaving rural resources vulnerable to pressures from urban processes (Singh & Narain 2019).

Revitalisation in this context is posited as a way to reverse rural decline through focusing on the creation and stimulation of opportunities to generate local rural incomes and jobs, while preserving and sustaining the dynamics and features that characterise rural life (Kenyon, 2008; Meyer, 2014).  This involves the maintenance, revival or transformation of traditional institutions that manage shared resource through improved management (Steiner & Fan 2019).  Consequently, these areas can be transformed into productive and sustainable localities, with communities able to collaboratively engage to leverage their position at the peri-urban interface.

To achieve sustainability in the peri-urban context, the challenges embedded within interactions between shifting social and economic processes and local contexts requires collaborative forms of governance.  In many cases, and as exemplified in our case study of the Lai Chi Wo (LCW) village in Hong Kong SAR, misconceptions regarding what revitalisation entails can impede progress.  Institutions, such as scientific, knowledge and educational institutions, have been identified as having the potential to act as a broker to safeguard and protect community interests, particularly in situations of power asymmetries (Foster & Iaione 2022).  In the LCW case, misconceptions were able to be addressed and dissolved through the actions of such a broker in the facilitation of collaborative governance and movement towards community self-governance.

Here, previous government policies relating to village zoning and country park boundaries failed to support the long-term development of rural villages.  The Small House Policy (1972), which is an open-ended policy that upholds the right of male Indigenous villages to build a house on land within their village at a concessionary premium once they reach 18 years old.  The increasing number of applicants and lack of planning permission, resulting in haphazard development and sprawl, have been the subject of increasing concerns (Hopkinson & Lei 2003).  The Country Parks Ordinance (1995) excludes village and agricultural land from country park boundaries, creating unprotected enclaves.  These are at risk from private development and the consequential loss of ecology and biodiversity (WWF 2014).  The LCW village is one such enclave, and so was the subject of arguments from green groups and conservationists wanting greater (environmental) zoning protection and villagers upholding their traditional rights.  In sum, nature conservation and human activities were perceived as conflicting agendas, making collaborative governance arrangements a challenge.

Consequently, for years the lack of consensus stymied attempts to restore or rejuvenate LCW.  LCW is a traditional Hakka village, with a 400yr long history, and once generated enough produce to sustain its few hundred villagers (Chick 2017).  The village upheld principles of sustainable and wise-use of natural resources for self-sufficiency and so possessed a close interdependent relationship with the environment.  This equilibrium broke down over the 1960s-70s, alongside the decline in the agricultural sector.  Its villagers emigrated overseas or to urban areas, leaving agricultural lands overgrown and buildings crumbling.  Notably, the social capital and cultural commons inherent to the village were at risk of being lost altogether.

In 2013, Sustainable Lai Chi Wo Programmes[1] (the programme) was launched.  The programme, led by The Centre for Civil Society and Governance at The University of Hong Kong (the programme team), provided an innovative model to break the development/conservation impasse and initiate community led collaborative governance.  In addition to replenishing social, cultural and ecological capital of the rural areas, the programme team took on the role of a broker, providing mediation and facilitated learning across the disparate groups (Jenkins-Smith & Sabatier 1994, Jenkins-Smith et al. 2014).  Arenas were co-created by the programme team and relevant stakeholders to foster trust-building, knowledge generation, collaborative learning and conflicts resolution (Hahn et al., 2006).  In particular, the programme team employed strategies of venue creation, issue (re)framing and knowledge co-production to build trust, align goals, mediate conflicts and balance power relations.  This allowed collaborations to form and progress, resulting in the community-led revitalisation of LCW (Chu et al. 2022).

During the programmes development, a period of scope (re-) definition was required to capture the differing objectives of the villages, green groups and government.  This was essential for establishing the basis of collaborations.  Through an iterative process of stakeholder meetings and engagement processes, issue re-framing was able to occur.  The programme reframed the differing visions so that they could all fall under the one co-created, comprehensive vision, with many participants reporting that such reframing positively changed their perception of sustainable living and rural community.  One villager stated that the “Programme has helped me appreciate the interdependence between human beings and the natural environment” (2017:29 in Chu et al. 2022).  Through oral history interviews and curation of art programmes that celebrate rural capital, the reframing emphasised the relationships between land and people embedded in the village.  As an example, statements expressed the desire to ‘revive the relationship between the land and the people’ by enhancing the pride and sense of belonging of the villagers, to maintain a ‘self-sustaining economy’ (Chang 2016).

The programme also built trust and joint understandings through creating and managing new venues in the form of new festive events, capacity building sessions and liaison meetings, alongside informal daily communications.  These venues provided neutral grounds for discussion between experts and those active on-the-ground, which contributes to knowledge exchange and learning (Hysing & Olsson 2008).  By allowing stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue regarding the programme, the wider community become involved, providing them a voice in the programmes development.

Progress was also made in building a more integrated, self-sustaining village community through working to dissipate the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ beliefs commonly held by Indigenous villagers and those in urban areas.  Through constructive dialogue and co-developing social innovative solutions to rural issues, a neutral venue was created for the co-creation of a broader community of interest involved in rural revitalisation.  Alongside this shift, the villagers’ perception about the direction of development changed.  The previous imagination of an urbanisation-style development was supplanted by support for a collaborative approach to sustainable community development.  This was significant as previously some villagers believed developer-led development was the only alternative to desertion (Chu et al. 2022).

As a result of the broker, the LCW programme took a community-led and collaborative governance approach to revitalisation.  The result was the revival of agricultural land, a vibrant village and policy change that now embraces such projects, with the introduction of a new fund and organisation dedicated to rural revitalisation projects (Williams et al. 2020).  The broker was able to facilitate collaborations through its various strategies, resulting in the creation of new community co-governing the sustainable management of the village’s resources in a manner compatible with the modern world.

______________________________________________________________________

[1] Sustainable Lai Chi Wo: Living Water & Community Revitalization- An Agricultural-led Action, Engagement and Incubation Programme at Lai Chi Wo was initiated in 2013, followed by the HSBC Rural Sustainability programme in 2017.

 

References:

Bjorna, H. & Aarsaether, N. (2009) Combaring depopulation in the northern periphery: local leadership strategies in two Norwegian municipalities. Local Governance Studies 35(2): 213-233

Chick, H.L. 2017. “The significance, conservation potential and challenges of a traditional farming landscape in an Asian metropolis: a case study of Lai Chi Wo, Hong Kong” Journal of World Heritage Studies Special Issue: 17-23

Chu, V.H.Y., Law, W.W.Y. and Williams, J.M. 2022. Advocacy coalitions in rural revitalisation: The roles of policy brokers and policy learning. Environmental Science and Policy. 136: 9-18

Foster, S.R. and Iaione, C. 2022. Co-Cities: Innovative Transitions towards Just and Self-Sustaining Communities: MIT Press

Hahn, T., Olsson, P., Folke, C., & Johansson, K. (2006). Trust-building, Knowledge Generation and Organizational Innovations: The Role of a Bridging Organization for Adaptive Comanagement of a Wetland Landscape around Kristianstad, Sweden. Human Ecology, 34(4), 573-592. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10745-006-9035-z

Hopkinson, Lisa and Mandy, L.M. Lei, 2003. Rethinking Small House Policy, Civic Exchange

Hysing, Erik and Jan Olsson. 2008. “Contextualising the Advocacy Coalition Framework: theorising changing in Swedish forest policy” Environmental Politics, 17(5): 730-748

Jenkins-Smith, Hank. C., and Paul Sabatier. 1994. “Evaluating the Advocacy Coalition Framework”. Journal of Public Policy 14(2), 175–203

Jenkins-Smith, Hank. C., Daniel Nohrstedt, Christopher Weible and Paul Sabatier. 2014. “The advocacy coalition framework: Foundations, evolution, and ongoing research”. In Theories of the Policy Process 3rd edition, eds. Paul Sabatier and Christopher Weible. 183–223. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Kenyon, P. (2008). Rural revitalization and the need to create sustainable, healthy and resilient communities. Bank of ideas.  www.bankofideas.com.au. Access: 23 June 2021.

Li, Y.R., Liu, Y.S., Long, H.L. & Cui, W.G. (2014). Community-based rural residential land consolidation and allocation can help to revitalize hollowed villages in traditional agricultural areas of China: evidence from Dancheng County, Henan Province. Land Use Policy 39:188-198

McGreevy, S.R. (2012) Lost in translation: incomer organic farmers, local knowledge, and the revitalization of upland Japanese hamlets. Agriculture and Human Values 29(3): 393-412

Meyer, D. F. (2014). Exploration of Solutions for Revitalisation of Rural Areas in South Africa. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(4), 613.

Singh, A. K., & Narain, V. (2019). Fluid institutions: commons in transition in the periurban interface. Society & Natural Resources, 32(5), 606-615.

Steiner, A. & Fan, S. (2019a) A global rural crisis: Rural revitalization is the solution. IFPRI blog: Issue post. https://www.ifpri.org/blog/global-rural-crisis-rural-revitalization-solution. Accessed. 24 June 2021

Walser, J. & Anderlik, J. (2004) The future of banking in America- Rural depopulation: what does it mean for the future economic health of rural areas and the community banks that support them? Banking and Financial Institution 16(3): 57-95

Williams, Jessica M., Vivian Chu, Wai-Fung Lam and Winnie W.Y. Law. 2021. Revitalising rural communities. Springer Briefs on case studies of sustainable development. Springer, Singapore

WWF. 2014. Fixing the Holes: The need to repair Hong Kong’s country park system. Country Park Enclaves Investigation Report. WWF Report