Land Trust Bureaucracy Strikes the L9!

In my response to an article by my peer on a Community Land Trust developing in the L9 I tried to point out the fact that low-income workers might not like seeing their rents go to slumlords, but rather those funds could accrue such that one day they (me too!) could have that oh-so-American rite/right of passage, which “can” confer so many more rights (re: NOPD will still break them if they deem it necessary, i.e. search home without warrant):

I think the intentions of the L9 NENA are to help folks who otherwise couldn’t put a down payment on a house or land, or might not qualify for a bank loan considering how banks have been so tight with loaning out much to anyone after the 2008 crisis.

The fact that over 99 years, folks would pay about $30,000 rather than $8,000 now assumes that the price of land in 3010 (inflation adjusted) would remain around its current cost and that folks, once again, can afford the $8,000 in addition to what might be a significant monthly mortgage rate for the actual home.  It also means folks avoid–if they can’t afford a home otherwise–paying higher and higher rents. New Orleans rents are up at least 50% still, five plus years after Katrina.

The other important fact to remember about Community Land Trusts is that they PROTECT against land speculation and assessments that can bankrupt folks and/or put them into massive debt such as what happened in the very very recent crisis to much of the middle and working classes caught up in the foreclosure mania and the predatory lending by profit-not-people driven bankers.  Keeping assessments low also keeps property taxes low.  This all adds to the stability, longevity and “community” orientation that these land trusts are intended to foster.

The big worry is if the Community Land Trust folds…which leads me to…

My main concern for people who get involved in the land trust is whether they have access to power and decision-making for the CLT, rather than it residing strongly within L9 NENA, as a guardian. Like an earlier commenter who suggested a cooperative,  these forty homeowners should have direct control over the direction of the community land trust.  I say this because this quote is confusing as far as structure:

[NENA will] “maintain ownership of the land on behalf of the collective community.” He explained that participation on the organization’s board as a trust member would give residents “control of and responsibility for the stewardship of the land.”

So each homeowner is a trust member and is on the board? So there will be forty members on the board? Are decisions made by majority rule, supermajority (usually 2/3), or full consensus? NENA in this case then is only an administrator and not on the board? I think some structural diagrams or charts would be great to understanding how power and checks on it will work out in practice!

In either case, as mentioned in the article these are 40 plots of land in a neighborhood of 5000-plus. I think it will be evident within the first cycle of ownership what is working for owners or owners-to-be and what is not. If they get direct control, then the process is more readily changed for the next generation.

[end of public comment to article]

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Or, you and your family members and friends, folks who you would trust with your life, get together and raise some funds to own some land collectively…many plots…and create social centers and resources for the surrounding community…so they will want to follow in your footsteps and you will be able to teach them this form of liberation.

it takes will, initiative, patience, persistence and a saving for a future worth having rather than a consuming for a now that you can live just as fully without spending a dime. go for a run in the park, collect seeds to plant in your (fingers crossed: lead free) backyard, play basketball, listen to street music performances, have great conversations in friends’ front rooms, read a library book, dance. Dance. DANCE.  And then, not too long down the road, you could be looking at collective ownership where you can…defend the land!

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