Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Could a Community Land Trust Keep Brownsville Affordable? Local Nonprofit Says Yes.

Community land trusts transfer the control of city-owned land to local residents and stakeholders to maintain affordability and economic diversity of their neighborhood.
Brownsville, BK Reader
Vacant lot at 457 Powell Street. Source: Google Map

The Brownsville Partnership, a collaborative of more than 30 organizations working to improve the health, safety and prosperity of Brownsville, is forming a community land trust for Brownsville and Ocean Hill and is looking for local residents to join the advisory committee.

"Brownsville is a good location for a community land trust because of the significant opportunities for development here," said John Napolitano, senior project manager of Inspiring Places for the Brownsville Partnership. "As vacant land owned by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is redeveloped, a CLT will help ensure that the new building supports the goal that every Brownsville resident has a safe, healthy and affordable place to live."

Community land trusts are nonprofit corporations that develop and steward affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces and other community assets on behalf of the community. In neighborhoods like Brownsville, where an influx of development on long-vacant land is underway, CLTs are particularly important, said Napolitano.

"Creating a CLT can help ensure that as development happens in Brownsville, it's done in a way that keeps the interests of the community front and center," said Napolitano. "By empowering the community to participate in the development process, the CLT can ensure that new construction addresses what matters to Brownsville residents, like creating more housing that's truly affordable. Most importantly, a CLT gives the community a strong say in future planning and development. It's crucial that a CLT is established before development comes in, so that affordability can be preserved for current residents."

Once formed as an independent nonprofit, the mission of this membership-based organization will be to transfer control of select real estate assets to local residents and community stakeholders to maintain affordability, economic diversity and local access to essential services within the neighborhood. A board drawn from residents, other members of the community, advisors and public officials will oversee the operations of the CLT, Napolitano explained.

The Bronwsville CLT will place particular emphasis on providing new homeownership and rental opportunities, as well as sponsoring community improvement and placemaking projects on vacant properties.

The Brownsville Partnership is now looking for local residents to join the CLT advisory committee that will shape how city-owned vacant land in Brownsville will be developed and provide a check to ensure that the new housing being built is affordable and serves the community's needs.

"Our goal is to form a panel of at least 12 members, with residents and local stakeholders making up two-thirds of the group," said Napolitano. 

A first introductory meeting was held on January 16, and a second introductory meeting will take place in mid-February. The CLT will be formed in the next few months, with the election of board members taking place later this year, said Napolitano.

The Brownsville Partnership is still accepting applications from interested residents. For more information, sign up here.