Common Ground: Community-Led Development on Community-Owned Land

JOHN EMMEUS DAVIS:  Land is typically the least creative aspect of community development, conceptually and practically. A departure from this norm is the community land trust (CLT), an innovative model of community-led development that rearranges relations of property and power in the place of residence. The foundation for a CLT, as well as for other nonprofit developers that operate in a similar fashion, is common ground: community-owned land that is never re-sold, but put to productive use through long-term ground leasing. There are difficulties involved in doing affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization this way, which dissuade many nonprofits from even trying it, but common ground also has operational, ethical, economic, and political advantages all its own. It may be harder to do, but the extra effort is worth it.