Community Land Trust

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are potentially equitable and sustainable models of affordable housing and community development. As large land deals are being made throughout Detroit, Community Land Trusts offer a potential alternative to profit-driven development and a means to resist the continued movement of public-owned commons into the private sector. CLTs also offer a means of promoting the retention of Detroiters.

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Land Policy Recommendations
The purpose of this document is to provide the Detroit Land Bank Authority with community-driven recommendations for repurposing vacant land in the City of Detroit. This document outlines policies that support the formation and inclusion of community land trusts (CLTs) as a tool for ongoing land management and neighborhood strengthening strategies. This document has been prepared and approved by the Detroit Community Land Trust Coalition—a collective of over 100 Detroit residents committed to achieving a more equitable, prosperous, and just city.

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The Detroit Community Land Trust Coalition (DCLTC) is a growing coalition of concerned citizens, homeowners, renters, elected officials, policy experts and researchers whose mission is to support community ownership and neighborhood-driven decision making about land in Detroit.

DCLTC supports the development of healthy communities throughout Detroit, according to residents’ own definition of health and success.  Driving our work is a commitment to:

  • Re-defining how successful land development is understood and how its highest benefits are determined, captured, and justly distributed.
  • Employing strategies that protect all residents’ free access to public spaces to learn, create, and play.
  • Supporting the creation of enough permanently affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families to meet the city’s current and future
  • Expanding opportunities for residents to build and own community assets through permanently affordable housing and community based enterprise.
  • Holding a space for meaningful resident participation in decision-making about land use policies and development projects.
  • Protecting and preserving land as a precious resource.
  • Strengthening neighborly ties to cultivate beloved communities in which people want to be rooted.

Ultimately, we aim to shift the narrative and practice of development in a direction that honors the fact that both people and land are inherently valuable and should be treated and invested in accordingly. By promoting the active participation of residents in the ownership and development of the physical and social elements of their communities, we believe a greater respect for land and culture and their intrinsic connection to our livelihood will be achieved.


DCLTC Meeting Flyer-OCT 22

October 2014 UPDATE: Community Land Trust
The Detroit Community Land Trust Coalition’s main accomplishments of the Coalition have been related to organizational development, new leadership development, relationship building, and policy advocacy.

A testament to the Coalition’s strength and respect is that a Detroit Land Bank Authority consultant asked the group for input to inform his report to the DLBA about what should be done with Detroit’s vacant, city-owned land. In response, the Coalition formed a Policy Work Group, which drafted policy recommendations, approved by the Coalition as a whole and incorporated into the DLBA report. The momentum behind this working group is great and the Coalition has been developing a strong group of new leaders who possess an understanding of Detroit’s political landscape and how CLTs can serve as a powerful tool in molding the future of that landscape. This group and other members of the Coalition will gather in October to revise strategy, tactics and raise funds to support Coalition work.

The Coalition is also bringing national trainers to Detroit this fall to provide residents with the tools needed to organize around and form CLTs. Look for information on the training this fall. In the meantime, we will also be featured at FICON’s Oct. 23 conference alongside the keynote speaker, Harry Smith, Director of Development at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston, who will be focusing on Development without Displacement and the power of CLTs to build equity and power in urban neighborhoods.

Detroit Community Land Trust Coalition

• Hosted free, monthly, volunteer-led meetings at 736 Lothrop with a committed group of 10-20 residents and organizers to develop strategy and resources for exploring city-wide and district-based CLTs.

• Performed Power Analysis around Land in Detroit.

• Partnered with WSU Law Damon Keith Center for Civil Rights to produce a popular education tool called the CLT Toolkit which is available for free.

• Allied with Field Street Block Club, Jefferson Chalmers CDC, North End & New Work/Field Street Collective to introduce the CLT Toolkit to their community. They are now organizing around CLTs and CBAs to preserve affordable housing and cooperative living in their neighborhood.

• Received competitive scholarship to send three members to National Community Land Trust Conference in Cleveland, OH

• Allied with Reverend Ross (various affiliations) in the North End to discuss CLT opportunities there.

• Traveled to Oakland, CA and San Francisco to work with CLT practitioners and bring back legal and other resources for Detroiters interested in doing this work. • Raised $5k in 0% interest loans for CLT seed money in Detroit.

Links to examples of CLTs

Northern California Land Trust
The Northern California Land Trust is the oldest CLT in California and has served as a leader in the CLT movement on the West Coast. Throughout its history, the NCLT has been involved in dozens of community development projects, developed more than 165 units of housing, and has more than 35 new units in construction.

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
Founded in 1984, by 1988 DSNI had succeeded in getting the city to grant it eminent domain power so the group could acquire vacant land through a community land trust to implement its community revitalization plan. To date, 144 new homes and 2 community facilities have been built on land held by the trust.

More on Community Land Trusts

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