Cities across the United States are facing the aftermath of failed development that inevitably leads to islands of wealth for a few, paired with rising housing costs and displacement for far too many. Failed development reinforces structural racism in housing and leaves in its wake tens of thousands of empty homes that sit side by side with homeless people in rust belt cities like Baltimore.
These human rights failures, however, present opportunities in disguise. We have the opportunity to create neighborhood control over land and housing, change the development paradigm, and support communities in their efforts to end the market speculation, mostly from outside investors, that has upended the lives of countless families.
Today, the Baltimore Housing Roundtable releases Community + Land + Trust: Tools for Development without Displacement, a report co-written by NESRI and The Public Justice Center. Community + Land + Trust details the history of failed development and segregated housing in Baltimore, and offers a new vision for neighborhood control through shared responsibility and shared wealth: publicly financed community land trusts to create permanently affordable housing.
- Tens of thousands of vacant properties and homes in Baltimore present an ideal opportunity for conversion to Community Land Trusts (CLTs), where communities own land and control its development.
- CLTs can shepherd the deconstructing, greening, or transforming vacant property into community goods, green spaces and housing.
- Transforming vacant property also presents equally ideal employment opportunities to city residents who struggle with criminal record histories and who can be trained to do the thousands of jobs needed to transform neighborhoods.
- Community-driven housing and community jobs–combined into a single initiative, can increase community wealth and meet human need in marginalized neighborhoods.
The report challenges the City of Baltimore to commit $20 million annually in bonds for jobs–deconstructing, greening, and transforming vacant properties –and $20 million annually in bonds for community land trust housing. This 20/20 Vision for Fair Development is a gamechanger for the human right to housing in Baltimore and across the country.