The Bottom LineThe Bottom Line

First Citywide Community Land Trust Announced for NYC

$1 million will get the ball rolling.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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A citywide collaborative of nonprofit affordable housing organizations today announced the formation of the Interboro Community Land Trust (CLT), NYC’s first citywide CLT. Its primary focus will be creating permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for low-income households.

A land trust is a nonprofit that retains ownership of land and sells housing on that land to homeowners or developers. A CLT’s board of directors typically consists of one-third CLT residents, one-third residents from the surrounding community, and one-third professionals in real estate, property management, housing, finance or other backgrounds that are essential to responsible ownership of land. The CLT typically caps resale prices or rents for housing on its land in order to preserve affordability for future generations of residents. Around 225 CLTs are active around the U.S., representing around 20,000 rental units and 15,000 homeownership units.

Interboro CLT partners include the Center for NYC Neighborhoods (CNYCN), Habitat for Humanity New York City (Habitat NYC), Mutual Housing Association of NY (MHANY), and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB). They hope the new CLT can help address the widening economic inequality that threatens the economic and racial diversity of the city.

“Interboro’s multipartner structure is the first of its kind, and an extremely innovative, ambitious and smart approach for New York City,” said Melora Hiller, CEO of Grounded Solutions Network, a national organization supporting CLTs, in a statement announcing Interboro CLT.

The partners also announced a $1 million investment in the CLT from Citi Community Development (which also supports Next City), which will help get the ball rolling on the CLT’s first 250 permanently affordable housing units. Citi Community Development provided seed funding for Interboro CLT in fall 2016. Additional support for the CLT has come from Enterprise Community Partners, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the Office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Tuesday’s announcement is yet another step forward this year for CLTs in the nation’s largest city, from HPD’s request for expressions of interest from CLTs to the awarding of $1.65 million in grants to CLTs in NYC, including Interboro CLT.

Interboro CLT’s affordable units will largely be drawn from a number of sources within the core partners’ existing portfolios.

Habitat NYC has served over 600 families since 1984, including 13 families moved into new units and 37 families whose homes they helped preserve in 2016. Around 300 homes are currently in Habitat NYC’s predevelopment or pipeline phases.

“Affordable housing that we worked so hard to finance, build and advocate for, can be lost to the open market in the very next generation,” said Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City, in the announcement.

MHANY has a portfolio of over 1,300 units of affordable rental housing, and counsels over 2,000 low- and moderate-income families interested in homeownership on an annual basis. MHANY and CNYCN are also part of the city-sponsored collaborative that purchased 24 distressed mortgages from HUD in 2016.

“The Interboro Community Land Trust provides a mechanism that will balance access to affordable homeownership for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers with opportunities for building equity that can finance future homeownership, education or other personal needs,” said Ismene Speliotis, MHANY executive director, in the announcement.

Meanwhile, since its inception in 1973, UHAB has helped more than 1,350 housing cooperatives, creating homeownership opportunities for more than 30,000 families.

Going beyond the existing stock of affordable housing will be challenging for Interboro CLT. According to a Furman Center/Citi report on homeownership in NYC, only 9 percent of homes on the market in 2014 were affordable for the 51 percent of New Yorkers earning less than $55,000 a year; only the top quarter of New Yorkers who make more than $114,000 a year could afford the average $575,700 sales price of a coop, condo or a family home with one to three units in 2014.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter.

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Oscar is Next City's senior economic justice correspondent. He previously served as Next City’s editor from 2018-2019, and was a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow from 2015-2016. Since 2011, Oscar has covered community development finance, community banking, impact investing, economic development, housing and more for media outlets such as Shelterforce, B Magazine, Impact Alpha and Fast Company.

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Tags: new york cityaffordable housingland trusts

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