A tool to prevent gentrification?

Everyone wants their neighbourhood to be a better place to live, but how do you avoid the fundamental laws of the market forcing people out who’ve often lived and loved there for generations? One tool can help

Gentrification. It’s one of the few genuinely bad things about the otherwise process of making nicer places to live. Sometimes it’s done deliberately (“weaponising” urban development). But most often it’s an accident, whereby an influx of more affluent people moving into an area because they love its vibe (or can afford it) destroy that very characteristic that attracted them there: the neighbourhood’s demographic composition changes and so do the services and amenities on offer. (Then there’s investors seeking profits – because we still see housing mostly as something to make money off.)

But the upshot is the same: people who’ve typically been at the hard end of many circumstances, or are vulnerable, get hit again by circumstance when theyre no longer being able to afford to live in the neighbourhood they call home.

There’s lots of smart stuff written about gentrification, so check out Read More below.

So what’s this thing that could help?

In the ecosystem of cities, the community land trust is an example of a species that’s sadly rare in the anglosphere commonwealth (NZ, Australia, Canada, USA). It’s a community-purpose or social-purpose organisation with the power (and capital, more on that below) to own and manage property. It can be a landlord, a developer, a public space kaitiaki, all sorts – often all at once. That’s the beauty of having power over land.*

Community Land Trusts are burgeoning in popularity here which is great: we need a more diverse ecosystem of animals in the housing and development ecosystem. See Read More.

But for now, enjoy this excellent video about how they’re being used in Canada to take the edge off rampant gentrification of beloved woring-class, culturally diverse neighbourhoods.

Pay attention also to the “capital stack”: the money required to actually get the land in the first place!

Footnote: *owning land: the community land trust rests, of course, on the fundmentally Western notion of owning land, but it’s far more amenable than most legal instruments to the long-term, social-good, collective-asset-holding characteristics at the heart of many indigenous folks’ relationships to land.

Read more:

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