Love, Equality, And Benevolence Group Gets $20,000 Of City Funds For Study Of Land Trust For Low Income Housing

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - by Joseph Dycus

A non-profit was approved on Wednesday for more funding by the Health, Educational, and Housing facility board. Chattanooga in Action for Love, Equality, and Benevolence (CALEB) received $20,000 to conduct a study about the viability of a possible community land trust system for low-to-moderate income housing.

The resolution allocated that money from the Chattanooga Affordable Housing fund, in order to "coordinate the development of a comprehensive study which will assess the feasibility of establishing and sustaining a community land trust in Chattanooga." In a community land trust, land would be donated from various sources to be used to have affordable housing.

This affordable housing would be overseen by CALEB, who would actually own a percentage of the land. CALEB would then sell housing to people with low or moderate income, and the non-profit would ensure that the cost of living in these land trusts would be affordable “in perpetuity,” it was stated.

“We had several groups of citizens identify and brainstorm for tools to address the need for moderate or low income housing,” said one of the board members. “One tool is a community land trust, which is a nonprofit that builds and sells houses to people with low and moderate income, and that nonprofit retains ownership of the land in perpetuity. It’s a way to preserve that affordability in perpetuity.”

Using the money given to them by the board, CALEB would do a half-year-long study in order to determine the feasibility of the project. During the discussion, the successful existence of other land trusts in other cities and states was mentioned. One such community with a land trust was Nashville.

According to spokesman Michael Gilliland, CALEB was not looking to be the “sole initiator” of the land trust, and part of the study was going to look into what other organizations could assist in this endeavor.

“That’s what this feasibility study would do,” said community organizer Gilliland, “and it would define what the best course of action is. It would run from March to September. Then we would likely be having the public meeting sometime in either September or October.”

CALEB and the board hoped that this land trust would alleviate the rising cost of housing in Chattanooga, and would give the residents a voice in the community.

“It’s egregious, especially when we’re talking about gentrification,” said CALEB board chair Charlotte S.N.N Williams. “The community land trust will be one of those avenues to subside that. You’ll have input from the entire community, and you’ll have residents involved in the decision making process. Now, the community will have a voice, and we want to empower the residents.”

The $20,000 is coming from a fund of $1.6 million that has yet to be allocated. It would only fund the study and anything needed to facilitate the study.


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