How many conversations have we had about affordable housing options around the state and Metro and, especially when foreclosures mushroomed, plus what to do about underwater mortgages when home values tanked?
And about all those unenforced efforts to create affordable housing options under Minnesota and Met Council policies, especially in suburban areas panicked over a surge in “those people” if affordable housing came to fruition?
And, then, the seemingly unstoppable flood of absentee property acquisition and ownership – and neglect – by landlords unwilling to maintain rental units and spawning the very creation of our inner city slums in what became a cycle of conditions that had institutionalized that neglect so that a century of poverty and exploitation became the norm in too many neighborhoods?
Then, the flood of well-intentioned quest for using homeownership as a tool to combat absentee neglect only to find subprime mortgages flourish and unscrupulous banks and mortgage brokers willing to throw buyers into houses they could ill-afford and into debt that took those properties away again, leaving them to fend in the streets.
And what about all those properties abandoned turning entire blocks into ballparks or prairie?
Did anyone mention community land trusts as a serious way of providing perpetually affordable land use options and affordable housing opportunities? If we did, it was in passing. No dwelling.
Monday morning, we’ll dwell on the subject a good deal longer and learn much more about what on the surface seems like an sensible and underutilized option for cities, states and Metro areas feeling responsible for providing adequate and affordable shelter for their citizens.
We can start with this question: is housing or some form of shelter a right of societal or community membership? If so, why haven’t we explored these options and supplied such shelter for all over the last 200 years around here – longer elsewhere?
What is a land trust, anyway? What and who started this concept? And why does it seem on the surface to make so much sense even for smaller communities within communities?
Of course, one must qualify and be willing to give up ownership of the land to own the house on it. We’re a land-hungry breed, so this may be tough even for the poorest among us.
Lots of questions to answer.
But we’ll do our best enlighten us all about this concept and its possibilities for all of our communities. TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with at least one Community Land Trust executive and get our questions answered about the potential for– and the limitations of – community land trusts.
JEFF WASHBURNE – Executive Director, City of Lakes Community Land Trust, Minneapolis
GREG FINZELL – Executive Director, Rondo Community Land Trust, St. Paul