(Photo by Flickr user Jimmy Emerson, DVM, used under a Creative Commons license)
Pennsylvania’s community land trusts want you to know they’re here to stay.
The largely community-run nonprofits typically work alone in their respective communities, shouldering advocacy costs and fundraising initiatives as they work to secure land in marginalized communities. That land is used to ensure accessibility to affordable housing, civic spaces and community gardens.
But it’s lonely out there, and for small CLTs like Philadelphia’s Community Justice Land Trust, there’s often not enough capacity to continue the work they’re doing while raising awareness and educating the public on their missions.
That’s why 10 CLTs from across the state have come together to form the Pennsylvania Community Land Trust Collaborative (PCLT), comprised of:
- Allegheny Land Trust
- Centre County Housing and Land Trust
- Community Justice Land Trust
- Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust
- Lawrenceville Corp (Pittsburgh)
- Mosaic CLT (Pottstown)
- State College Community Land Trust
- Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group
- Regional Housing Legal Services
- Grow Pittsburgh
There are about 300 CLTs across the country — “a number” of which have created coalitions like PCLT, according to Nora Lichtash, the executive director of Women’s Community Revitalization Project, which started the local land trust. Coalitions like these are great for, among many things, knowledge sharing.
“We have a lot of the same problems, and we can work together to address some of them,” she said.
CLTs in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Lichtash said, are both dealing with negative effects of gentrification. PCLT will create a forum where solutions and best practices can be shared. It will also be a resource to fall back on for fundraising and advocacy initiatives.
Advocacy, Lichtash said, is going to be an important step in educating not only the general public about what CLTs do, but also informing banks and policymakers.
“There are some banks that understand CLTs and some that don’t. We’re doing advocacy to make sure they understand what we’re doing, why it’s good and that we can work together,” she said. “We’ve been learning how people are doing community education, how they screen homeowners, how they get land and how they get resources for subsidies.”
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The members of the newly-formed PCLT originally discussed plans to create a collaborative in November, Lichtash said. Now, it’s official.
“We think this could be a really good thing,” she said.-30-
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