Despite a two-month extension of the federal eviction moratorium announced August 3, 11 million people are still at risk of eviction and homelessness as they wait for states to disburse emergency rental assistance. The impending crisis reflects longstanding racial inequities, with Black families much more likely to face eviction than white families; Black, Indigenous and people of color more likely to be behind on rent; and more evictions filed in neighborhoods hardest-hit by COVID.

In addition to the urgent need for strong tenant protections and financial assistance to keep people housed, community land trusts (CLTs) and other community ownership models have emerged as a transformative strategy to advance an equitable recovery. CLTs shift properties out of predatory ownership that disproportionately drives evictions, and into community stewardship for preservation as permanently affordable housing. At the same time, historic uprisings for racial justice have increased calls for CLTs as a tool for shifting land, power and resources to BIPOC communities, and a fundamental element of reparations.

As interest in CLTs and other forms of community ownership grows, it is critical to lift up their history in movements for racial, economic, and environmental justice, and BIPOC-led organizations leading the way forward. The LISC Institute recently hosted a conversation with Shirley Sherrod, co-founder of the nation’s first CLT, New Communities, Inc., and CLT leaders from Baltimore, Houston, New York City, and Seattle, to reflect on how CLTs can combat Black land loss and displacement, build community wealth, and strengthen community health and wellbeing.

Panelists described how, across distinct local contexts, Black-led CLTs are advancing visions for equitable futures and repairing legacies of white supremacy and discriminatory policies governing land ownership. “The land that we’re on bears witness to this history of violence, but the land also bears witness to our resilience, our fight, our struggles, our demand for freedom and liberation from systems of oppression,” said moderator Athena Bernkopf, project director of the East Harlem El Barrio CLT, in introducing the session. “The land sees all of that both in the past and in the present, and will continue to bear witness to that in the future.”

Read the full article about community land trusts by Julia Duranti-Martínez at LISC.