Nashville is creating the city's first community land trust, the Mayor's office announced Tuesday. The trust will buy up property, maintain partial ownership and keep it affordable for generations of owners.
To do this, the city says it will use its Barnes Housing Trust Fund to partner with The Housing Fund, a local non-profit. Together, they will buy up a stock of properties and put them in a land trust. This a tool used by a number of cities around the country to thwart gentrification. Chicago, Seattle, New York, all have community land trusts.
“If Nashville is going to close the housing needs gap, we are going to have to be bold and innovative in our solutions to build, preserve, and maintain our supply of affordable housing,” said Nashville's Mayor Megan Barry.
In essence, a community land trust allows a local non-profit to buy parcels of land and use them in ways that benefit a community. They can sell the land to private owners, but it's not quite a traditional sale. The land trust retains a long-term ground lease on the property. In other words, the house and the land have separate owners. This distinction insulates the homes from market price spikes, allowing the fund to cap resale prices, and guarantees affordability for years to come.
Marshall Crawford, president & CEO of The Housing Fund said establishing a community land trust "forces us to have new conversations not only about the creation of new affordable housing units, but also about the preservation of existing housing units and entire communities."
The city says The Housing Fund will begin working on the land trust in 2018. Currently, there are nearly 250 community land trusts across the U.S.