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Streets of Dreams: Development without Displacement in Communities of Color   cover image

Streets of Dreams: Development without Displacement in Communities of Color 2013


Distributed by Open Studio Productions, PO Box 318111, San Francisco, CA 94131-8111; 415-586-3421
Produced by Helen S. Cohen and Mark Lipton
Directed by Helen S. Cohen and Mark Lipton
DVD , color, 15 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Political Science, Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Areas

Date Entered: 11/14/2014

Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

The idea of property ownership in the African American community across the United States runs very deep for many of these families. It signifies that as a member of American society, their community remains intact. “Streets of Dreams voices the stories of grassroots activists in communities of color around the U.S. who are using community land trusts (CLTs) to preserve the affordability of their homes, prevent displacement and shape the future of their communities. This 16-minute video presents inspiring portraits of CLTS in New Orleans, Atlanta, Delray Beach, and Durham, providing compelling case studies for understanding how to advance community economic development in a range of economic environments.” (Distributor’s copy)

The CLT model is rooted in the 1960s civil rights movement. Activists established the first CLT — New Community Land Trust in Albany, GA — to provide land ownership opportunities to African-American farmers. The experiment eventually led to the founding of the Institute for Community Economics (ICE), which today is one of the key funders of CLTs across the US. In 2012, there were 258 CLTs, with 9,000 units of housing, distributed across 46 states.

This short film illustrates a decades-old strategy to maintain housing affordability that is finding a groundswell of support from an increasingly diverse group of stakeholders. The community land trust is an alternative model that separates the ownership of property from the ownership of the land on which that property is built. In effect, organized citizens remove land from the private, speculative market where its value is difficult to control.

Interestingly enough there is a smaller sub-group of CLTs that function in urban areas like New York City as affordable housing is constantly a topic of discussion for many on New Yorkers. A critical mass of civic organizations, academic institutions which include both CUNY and SUNY, city agencies, advocacy groups, and others are pondering the essential and persistent issue of how to ensure that the city becomes affordable for the extraordinarily diverse population that makes it work. What’s more, this conversation is riding a new wave of perceived political support from the de Blasio administration, which has tapped leading academics and esteemed private and public sector figures to deliver on its ambitious promise to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in ten years.

The CLT model’s flexibility and adaptability to local conditions make it an appealing solution to a range of problems affecting communities across the country including disinvestment, gentrification and displacement, foreclosure, loss of affordability due to expiring public subsidy, housing discrimination, and decreasing social capital.