Affordable Housing’s Forever Solution

Affordable Housing’s Forever Solution

Are community land trusts the answer for cities seeking neighborhood stability?
STORY BY Jake Blumgart

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Cheryl Senter

PUBLISHED ON Aug 10, 2015

When Evelyn Correa first moved to Boston, she refused to walk around her neighborhood alone. Arriving in the city in 1987, she moved in with her husband and his parents in the Upham’s Corner section of North Dorchester, then a blighted area in a floundering city. Their new home was at the heart of Boston’s urban crisis, a chain of neighborhoods in Dorchester and Roxbury that had been redlined into instability and crisis decades earlier.

Today, Correa’s home and her neighborhood are wholly different, in large part due to the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI). During the 1980s, this energetic neighborhood organization convinced the city that it could steward and revitalize its surroundings and did so using a then unheard of method: a community land trust. Through their land trust, Dudley Neighbors Incorporated, DSNI took possession of most of the dozens of vacant lots that pocked the area, either by purchasing them from private owners using foundation money or obtaining them for almost nothing from the city. DSNI then removed the properties from the private market, leasing them out to developers under Dudley Neighbors, with the caveat that properties remain permanently affordable. Correa’s house belongs to her, but the land beneath it belongs to Dudley Neighbors, which will ensure that if she ever sells, it will be to someone of a similar income.

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