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Community Land Trusts and Low-Income Multifamily Rental Housing

The Case of Cooper Square, New York City

Tom Angotti with the assistance of Cecilia Jagu

July 2007, English

Community land trusts have often promoted owner-occupied single-family housing in rural areas and small towns, but many CLTs have sizeable numbers of multifamily rental and cooperative units. As CLTs are engaged in a national dialogue about “scaling up” production, there is renewed interest in multifamily options in cities. This paper examines the costs and benefits of a multifamily project by the Cooper Square Community Land Trust in New York City. Comparisons are made with new construction and rehab projects of the Burlington Community Land Trust (Burlington, Vermont) and Northern California Land Trust (Berkeley, California). The Cooper Square CLT is a unique case that has so far not been studied. It provides low-income housing with guaranteed long-term affordability in a dense urban setting where gentrification is removing affordable units from the housing stock. Tenant and neighborhood organizing that started over four decades ago, which has resulted in a broad array of community-controlled land, has been a key to Cooper Square’s success, as has support from City government. Cooper Square uses City subsidies more effectively than other programs.


Community Development, Community Land Trusts, Development, Housing, Inequality, Planning, Urban, Urban Development, Urbanism