Diversity Land Trust

Introduction & Challenge

Over decades, communities can change from disinvested and underserved, to reinvesting and improved — where displacement threatens low-income residents, reducing their access to housing, opportunities, and the services of a thriving community. 

Property tax burdens, and other revenue, technical and cost concerns are threats to long-term social and economic sustainability of affordable housing. Given this reality, public, private, and non-profit organizations need to work in tandem to mitigate market forces that push people out of their place in the community and stifle long-term prospects for income and racial diversity. 

Voice of the People in Uptown is dedicated to the proposition that every person deserves the chance to live in a great community. We believe that every owner needs support to viably sustain affordable housing and minimize the need for property sales that accelerate displacement and fuel gentrification.

Community Land Trusts – An Answer ?

Around the nation, “Community Land Trusts or CLTs” have been formed to keep ownership options available to persons, organizations or businesses of moderate income by controlling the land or buildings and leasing them back to occupants – with the agreement that should the property be sold, that they would be kept in ownership of people of modest income.  

CLT methods and models are known for ownership housing, including how to “limit equity increases” and how to maintain and govern land trusts. In the Chicago metro area, CLTs are drawing increased recent attention as a strategy to expand homeownership and wealth building opportunities, particularly for people of color.

What about CLTs that support affordable rental housing?  Many do exist, but the ways in which they guarantee affordability and are structured vary.  The non-profit entities often duplicate housing developer, funding, financing, coalition and intermediary roles – which Chicagoland has in spades. 

Could a CLT be set up where lasting affordability, not just land ownership, is the unifying feature, and existing or new housing sponsors were the members?  To determine feasibility and seek the best input available, Voice announced the formation of an exploratory committee in March 2021 to advise its tenant-controlled board of directors.

Strategic Planning & Input – In process

Organizational outreach and meetings of prominent advisors began in the spring, and are continuing through 2021.  See our video on Making History, articulating a vision for resident and owner services, with a Diversity Land Trust being a new strategy for sustainable racial and economic diversity.  Learn more about the difference between traditional CLTs and what is proposed in our  Diversity Land Trust Overview.  Questions remain about if Chicago is ready for this kind of land trust, how it should be structured, and, how it might collaborate with various organizations committed to related efforts.  Check out our web page on Models for Structuring a DLT, and join our contact list for updates and events at DLT@UptownVoice.org.

Public Art Mural: 4426 N Clifton, Chicago
(Hazel-Winthrop Development)