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Affordable Housing Trust Fund Commission approves funding for community land trusts

On January 28, 2020, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Commission approved the plan of the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to designate $4 million for community land trusts (CLTs) in fiscal year 2020, $5 million in FY2021, and $7 million in FY2022. This is a significant victory in the campaign to create an ongoing source of city funding for permanently affordable, community-controlled housing. The Public Justice Center has worked closely with United Workers and other members of the Fair Development Roundtable to advocate for this kind of designation, and we will continue to advocate for local hiring, race equity, environmental sustainability, and other factors that will determine which development projects the Fund supports.

In 2018, the Fair Development Roundtable, Community Development Network, United Workers, and the Housing for All Coalition reached an agreement with Baltimore City leaders to significantly increase the City’s funding of affordable housing. The City will allocate $15 million to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund in FY20, followed by $16.5 million in FY21, $18 million in FY22, and $20 million in FY23. The Trust Fund will be funded through a combination of legislation from the City Council, general obligation bonds, and other revenue sources. The Fund the Trust Act then passed in fall 2018 to provide the majority of the funding to meet the annual commitment.

The plan approved at the Commission meeting on January 28, 2020, shows how Baltimore City DHCD will allocate this funding, including money for CLTs, construction of new rental housing, preservation of existing rental housing, senior homeownership repair and preservation, the Choice Neighborhoods program, rent supplements, inclusionary housing, and flexible funds to support other housing and community development projects.

CLTs keep properties affordable and in the hands of the community by putting the house, not the land it occupies, on the market and allowing only people with low incomes to buy or rent. To show viability, SHARE Baltimore is supporting a pilot project to develop CLT housing in six neighborhoods, including the 4×4 neighborhood in northeast Baltimore, McElderry Park, Curtis Bay, Westport, Cherry Hill, and Remington. We look forward to working with DHCD and the Commission to address housing affordability, race equity, and fair development through CLTs and other community-driven initiatives.