The Washington Post: Could A Community Land Trust Help Solve DC’s Gentrification Crisis?

The Washington Post, Oct. 2 2019: Could A Community Land Trust Help Solve D.C.’s Gentrification Crisis?

For decades, the District’s fight against the economic and social forces of gentrification has been a rear-guard action: belated restrictions on development, overdue attention to the needs of working-class families, modest affordable housing complexes tucked into neighborhoods where rent has already skyrocketed.

But a new initiative taking shape east of the Anacostia River aims to take a different approach. A nonprofit is buying property in a way that insulates it from development pressure, creating islands of affordability for longtime Washingtonians and girding against gentrification before the process begins.

The Douglass Community Land Trust, incorporated last month after years of planning and neighborhood outreach, will bring an increasingly popular approach to preserving affordable housing to the nation’s capital, which according to a recent study has experienced the country’s most intense rate of gentrification.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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