Housing advocates make haste to demand Community Land Trust (CLT) funding as the New York City Council teeters on the cusp of the final Fiscal Year 2022 budget vote, which is set to begin on July 1.
Chants of “CLTs for NYC,” rang throughout City Hall Park on Tuesday morning as tenants, elected officials, and housing activists rallied to demand full funding of $1.51 million to the CLT initiative to stabilize housing. Advocates say these funds will allow for a more equitable recovery for all while providing support for 14 neighborhood-based CLTs throughout New York City, including some citywide technical support organizations.
“The message to New York City Council is very simple: If you believe in economic justice, invest in Community Land Trusts,” said Albert Scott of East New York CLT. “This dynamic tool that helps empower communities such as mine in East New York, Brownsville, and citywide [so, it is] imperative that this budget pass with a tremendous investment in Community Land Trust.”
The fight for funding comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already existing housing and economic crisis within New York City’s most vulnerable communities. Since Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted government-mandated pandemic restrictions, and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the whopping $92.8 billion budget, activists are calling for a “just recovery,” starting with housing equity for Black, Brown, and immigrant communities.
The CLT initiative aims to create and preserve affordable housing by combatting residential and commercial displacement and inclusive decision-making in neighborhood development. Advocates believe this initiative will help address the core causes of homelessness and displacement by ensuring that affordable housing remains permanent, and developments meet community needs.
And, with the looming end of the eviction moratorium on Aug. 31, the fight for housing protections has never been fiercer.
“As we near a vote on the city budget we are calling for full funding of the $1.5 million citywide community land trust initiative,” said Manhattan Councilmember Carlina Rivera, sharing that in her district, the Cooper Square CLT provides hundreds of residents with affordable rents and holds 22 longtime small business with below-market rents.
Since 1994, New York City has lost 300,000 rent-regulated apartments, Rivera said, stressing that protection for New York’s most vulnerable is needed now more than ever.
“Even though we have new state laws protecting tenants, and we have to thank our state colleagues for that, the pandemic has revealed that a majority are rent burden, and they are on the brink of housing insecurity,” Rivera said, adding, “CLTs at scale can truly preserve affordable communities better than any other tool because they put residents in control.”
In addition to the funding of CLTs, those in attendance at the June 29 rally plead for the passage of legislation to advance tenant and community-controlled housing.