Three years ago, in the midst of the Bay Area’s growing housing and displacement crisis, a group of Bay Area people of color organized a potluck to talk about the crisis’ impact on their communities. They started the potluck with a question: “What if we could create a network of permanently affordable intentional communities, housing cooperatives, community gardens, and other regenerative land projects owned by and for people of color?”
1st Annual People of Color Sustainable Housing Convening
Drawing on the rich legacy of communal landholding in communities of color - from Civil Rights-era intentional communities and safe houses, to diverse indigenous land stewardship practices, to contemporary projects like the Black Land Matters Real Estate Investment Cooperative - the network began studying, dreaming, and organizing toward this vision. Many potlucks, meetings, field trips, and convenings later, the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network has over 1200 members and a strong vision for a network of ecologically, emotionally, spiritually, and culturally regenerative spaces in the Bay Area and beyond.
As their mission statement reads, “By supporting the creation of low-income, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led housing and land projects that focus on collective land ownership & stewardship, the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network hopes to foster long-term replicable strategies and tactics for housing, food, and land-use movements.”
To turn that vision into reality, Marissa Ashkar, one of the co-organizers of the Network, came to our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe looking for support. Since then, the Law Center’s Housing Program has worked closely with POCSHN to develop what could be a transformative model of community-owned, permanently-affordable housing: the Permanent Real Estate Cooperative.
Just last month, members of POCSHN incorporated the first ever Permanent Real Estate Cooperative and are electing their Board later this month. They plan to start raising money from the community later this year to remove housing from the speculative housing market and create resident-controlled, cooperatively-owned, and permanently affordable housing!
Creative Community Financing Strategies Working Group & Potluck
At the Law Center, we are committed to working alongside communities of color and working-class communities – those who historically and currently have the least housing security – to develop legal structures and policy mechanisms that give communities real control over land and housing. We are:
piloting innovative models of community-owned housing, like the Permanent Real Estate Cooperative;
supporting the growth of existing community-led solutions, like community land trusts and real estate investment cooperatives;
advocating for state and local laws that incentivize cooperative housing and prevent displacement; and
deepening relationships with frontline coalitions and land liberation efforts, like Right to the City Alliance and POCSHN, to grow the movement for community control of housing and development without displacement.
Will you join us in this movement for permanently affordable and community-owned housing?
Become a Member of the Law Center or make a one-time contribution today and support our efforts with People of Color Sustainable Housing Network to launch the first ever Permanent Real Estate Cooperative!