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Barnes Fund Partners with The Housing Fund to Create Nashville’s First Community Land Trust

December 19, 2017

The Barnes Housing Trust Fund, a grant program within the Mayor’s Office of Housing focused on creating affordable housing options, has announced that The Housing Fund, a local nonprofit, has been selected as their partner organization to create Nashville’s first Community Land Trust (CLT).  

“If Nashville is going to close the housing needs gap, we are going to have to be bold and innovative in our solutions to build, preserve, and maintain our supply of affordable housing,” said Mayor Barry. “A Community Land Trust is just that type of innovative initiative that will preserve and protect land for affordable housing, while helping to build and maintain safe and affordable housing units.” 

CLTs are organizations whose primary purpose is the creation and stewardship of permanently affordable housing. CLTs maintain ownership of the land under a single-family or multifamily development and sell the housing units on its land to qualified homeowners. The CLT typically caps resale prices for housing on its land in order to preserve affordability for future generations of residents. This tool can help us to combat displacement and preserve affordability in neighborhoods in transition. 

In fact, cities such as New York, Denver, and Portland have all adopted CLTs or similar models to help address affordable housing shortfalls and long-term preservation concerns. According to Fannie Mae’s Duty to Serve Underserved Markets Plan issued in May 2017, there are approximately 225 active CLTs in the United States supporting 20,000 rental and 15,000 homeowner units, respectively. 

“The CLT model forces us to have new conversations not only about the creation of new affordable housing units, but also about the preservation of existing housing units and entire communities,” said Marshall Crawford, President & CEO of The Housing Fund. “This is a positive step towards bringing attainable and healthy housing to Nashvillians of all income levels." 

Housing will be made affordable initially through public subsidies, private donations, or other public measures like the donation of public land. The ground lease used by the CLT will be an effective and durable mechanism for ensuring access to affordable housing for future populations. The Housing Fund, a private nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that has served Nashville communities for over 20 years, will look to Metro government for grants for development costs and land acquisition. The CLT model works best when land is owned debt-free by the CLT, allowing the CLT to remove the entire cost of the underlying land from the selling price of housing and other improvements. This model has the flexibility to combine uses of land, levels of income, and types of housing within the same project – or in different projects developed on contiguous parcels of land or scattered throughout Davidson County. 

"Nashville's rapid growth has created one of our greatest hurdles to affordable housing: skyrocketing land prices,” said Councilmember Colby Sledge, who serves on the Barnes Trust Fund Commission. “With a Community Land Trust, we can begin to remove this hurdle and work with our nonprofit and private-sector partners to create lasting affordable housing throughout the city."

There are still a number of steps that need to take place before a viable, effective, long-term CLT can be established in Nashville. Starting next year, The Housing Fund will work with stakeholders to craft a community vision for Nashville’s CLT, identify staff needs, and establish an advisory committee. Full implementation of the trust is anticipated to begin in FY2019-20.