How Hurricane Harvey Led To One Of America’s Biggest Land Trusts

The Houston Community Land Trust was created with $52 million of public funds and helps move residents into disaster-resilient housing.

Residents leave their homes amid floods.

Texas National Guard arrives in Houston to aid citizens in areas flooded by Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPADCC BY-ND 2.0)

Community land trusts are known for keeping housing affordable and safe, but they’re also becoming a tool to protect residents from being driven out when a hurricane hits and speculators swoop in.

In this episode of the Next City podcast, Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with Alexandra Applegate about her reporting on “climate gentrification” and the many ways community land trusts are being used to make cities more resilient to the effects of extreme weather disasters.

We also meet Ashley Allen, executive director for the Houston Community Land Trust, which launched partly in response to the flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Over a third of the housing there was damaged, and the city of Houston invested millions in launching the community land trust as a response. 

“To give you an idea of how big the problem was — and how devastating it was — we are five years out from Hurricane Harvey, and thousands of people are still needing their homes repaired,” says Allen, whose organization has helped over 100 families buy homes outside of flood zones.

To learn more about how community land trusts can keep housing affordable after a storm and the unique way the Houston Community Land Trust operates, listen to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple, Spotify or Goodpods. This episode is based on a story we co-published with Nexus Media News and which was made possible by a grant from the Open Society Foundations.

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