Not all housing is created equal. To solve the housing crisis we may need some taller buildings so we can accommodate everyone, but we definitely need more nuanced solutions than just simply letting the developers build on their own terms. So what to do?
We should insist that more housing and other real estate be owned by its occupants or by nonprofit community land trusts. Community land trusts (CLTs) are nonprofit organizations that hold onto real estate to ensure its permanent affordability and benefit to the community.
Some CLTs simply own housing and rent it to low to moderate income tenants, without all of the normal market pressures that other landlords typically experience. Unlike government housing agencies, CLTs are known for providing more autonomy and responsibilities to their tenants, so tenants have some control over the day-to-day management of the property. And CLTs do not kick out tenants if their incomes rise beyond a certain threshold, thus allowing residents to seek out higher paying jobs without fear of losing housing. Some CLTs include neighbors and other local stakeholders on their boards.
Additionally, many CLTs work closely with limited equity housing cooperatives (LEHCs), which are partially resident-owned. In an LEHC, the selling price of a share in the property is restricted by state law to ensure long-term affordability for current and future residents, while still enabling residents to own some equity. The equity owned by residents can increase in value over time but only to a limited extent. So residents have control, stability, and ownership, but without potential for windfall profits.
Read the full Op-Ed here: