A Land Trust in the Works to Preserve Affordability in Anacostia

  • February 17th 2017

by Nena Perry-Brown

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A Land Trust in the Works to Preserve Affordability in Anacostia: Figure 1
Good Hope Road in Anacostia. Photo by Ted Eytan.

As development continues to transform the District, more eyes are turning east of the Anacostia River, a longtime bastion of affordable housing in the city which also contains some of its most-neglected and overlooked communities.

The 11th Street Bridge Park project could very well be the major infrastructural development to spur investment in Anacostia and elsewhere in Ward 8; however, considering how development and gentrification have tended to go hand-in-hand over the past decade, many longtime residents east of the River have cause to be concerned over how such a major attraction could be disruptive.

This fact is not lost on Scott Kratz, director of the Bridge Park project, and was the impetus behind the creation of a multimillion-dollar Equitable Development Plan last year, the result of numerous neighborhood stakeholder meetings to solicit feedback on the community’s priorities and preferences. One of the initiatives that emerged is a partnership with Manna to create a homebuyers club in Ward 8.

“As part of the Bridge Park, it’s been really important from the beginning to invest not only in this new civic infrastructure, but also the surrounding communities,” Kratz says. “When we asked the community for their housing recommendations, the idea that kept coming up again and again, was this notion of a community land trust.”

The Bridge Park Community Land Trust, a partnership with City First Homes, will create the first land trust east of the River to purchase and pool land in Anacostia.

“The basic idea of a land trust is to preserve the land and to preserve the affordability by taking, in many ways, the land out of a property equation,” Robert Burns, president of City First Homes, explains. “Typically, when you buy a property, you’re taking the building and the land that sits underneath it. In putting a trust together, you’re able to preserve the affordability of the land, but also afford individuals and families the opportunity to buy without having to take the land into account, so its a different type of transaction.”

From a development perspective, employing a land trust would also enable the community to negotiate higher shares of inclusionary zoning units in multi-family projects. Land Trusts typically have tripartite structures where one-third of the board is made of neighborhood residents, one-third are residents of land trust properties, and one-third are experts in the field.

Over the next few months, the land trust working group will continue to refine what methods of property acquisition the Trust plans to use (including exploring market-rate options and partnering with developers to apply for city-owned properties), determine the structure and governance of the Trust, and hold additional informative and interactive sessions with the community. The group is also looking to build an acquisition fund through private philanthropic sources.

While the group hopes to have more to share on their progress next month — and to make some announcements on funding within the next 60 days — the process will be a collaborative one based on community feedback rather than depending on closed-door decision-making.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_land_trust_in_the_works_to_preserve_affordability_in_anacostia/12203.

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