The Need for Affirmative Legislation Supporting Community Land Trusts in Washington, D.C.
Housing has become increasingly unaffordable, especially in cities like Washington, D.C. Wage growth has not kept up, meaning that more households must spend a larger portion of their income to keep a roof over their heads. Government programs addressing affordable housing are innumerous, yet many individuals still face housing costs that are too high. At the same time, cities are plagued by thousands of vacant properties. Moving vacant properties back onto the residential market could help increase the housing stock and alleviate pressure on housing costs. However, to truly address the affordable housing crisis, vacant properties put back to productive use should be affordable in perpetuity. One type of entity, a community land trust (CLT), can facilitate that very thing.
This paper explores the housing affordability crisis and the vacant property landscape in D.C. It then describes the CLT model, focusing particularly on a relatively new community land trust in D.C., the Douglass Community Land Trust. Finally, this paper urges the D.C. Council to pass legislation supporting CLTs in D.C. and includes recommended policy provisions.