Baltimore, MD (USA) – The North East Housing Initiative, Inc.

Location Baltimore, MD (serves neighborhoods of North-East Baltimore)
Name The North East Housing Initiative, Inc. (NEHI)
Date Initiated 2012
Shared or Co-Governance The NEHI began as Catholic Church group into a much broader coalition of community members, religious groups, and activists of all backgrounds all of whom live in East Baltimore neighborhoods.  They are dedicated to building change for Baltimore through community land trusts and personal ownership. Their hope is to separate land from homeownership, so that homeowners who normally couldn’t afford to own a home can own their own homes, while NEHI maintains ownership of the land where the home resides.  In this way, ownership and control of the land will be shared and co-governed. NEHI’s hope is to allow most of the control over homeownership and use of the land to reside with the homeowner, and therefore the community members; but NEHI’s remains present as not only the owner of the land but as a “back stop” in the event that the homeowner comes into trouble and needs some help, including in the event of a mortgage default.  By creating a CLT, NEHI also helps to control and monitor how their land is used, and therefore, can prevent gentrification or private development of community land. They have many partners and collaborators, see here, which include local and state government actors, community associations, other nonprofits, foundations, lending institutions, and community developers.  Each has a role in, and is essential to, the realization of NEHI‘s vision.

Its board of directors is composed of individuals drawn from three sectors, all equally represented: 1/3 community residents, 1/3 lessees, and 1/3 community leaders. It has worked closely with local university and knowledge institutions, notably including the University of Maryland Law School Clinic, and has also consulted with local community developers and other community groups, who help with their advocacy and fundraising work.

Relationship to State The state is considered a “strategic partner” to NEHI, which works closely with local and state officials to realize their vision. The state was essential, in the first instance, to making CLTs a legally available tool; before 2010, they were not permissible under the existing laws.  The General Assembly amended the laws governing land leases in 2010, making CLTs permissible, and since then, NEHI and other CLTs in Maryland have been active. The state is also viewed as a partner in (hopefully) offering community grants, to help fund NEHI, and it is responsible for offering the tax exemptions and advantages received by NEHI as a CLT.
Pooling of Social and Economic Resources The NEHI, as the CLT, holds control over who receives ownership to the homes they originally acquire.  Note that to date, this is all theoretical, as they haven’t yet acquired any home. But once formed, a homeowner will have full, legal title to their home, while the CLT (NEHI) will maintain the title to the land it sits on.  The home will be offered at an affordable price, the costs of which will be absorbed by both the CLT and the government presumably. Only certain members of north-east Baltimore neighborhoods are eligible: those with 60%-80% of North East Baltimore’s Area Median Income (AMI).  NEHI also plans to employ several unemployed people in the community to help run the CLT; they are currently evaluating their needs.
Local Need(s) or Services Provided NEHI, as a CLT, holds the potential of not only offering low cost, affordable housing to residents of northern Baltimore, but homeownership itself, with all the long term tangible and intangible rewards that homeownership can bring.  In this way, they go beyond serving the need to provide additional low cost housing to Baltimore, but the broader, and more ambitious goal, of maintaining community control over their neighborhoods and preventing them from being taken over by gentrification or private development. The CLT, as the legal owner of the land they acquire, gets to control who purchases the homes on their properties and therefore, the use of their land, which they see as community land.  The NEHI was formed into a CLT after realizing that the average household gross income in NE Baltimore meets the federal government’s definition of low income, that 86% of the elderly population in NE Baltimore is considered “very low income,” and that most of these elderly people spend 50% or more of their income on housing. They formed with the mission of serving these lower income people and providing them with the housing, and the communities, that they deserve.
Digital Infrastructure, Open Data, Other Aspects N/A
Comments There are many challenges that the NEHI faces and it is not yet known whether they will succeed.  Successfully running a CLT has been done in the past, but takes a lot of time, effort and money. NEHI is still in the early stages of acquiring properties and, to date, has not transferred homeownership to anyone.
References and Sources NEHI Website: here.

NEHI’s facebook page: here.

The Baltimore Housing Roundtable: here.

The Baltimore Sun, at times, writes about CLTs in Baltimore. See here and here.

Baltimore, MD

Project Details

Added: 8.06.18