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Binghampton Community Land Trust

Editors note: In the summer of 2018 CTC convened a group of Binghampton neighbors who were passionate about seeing development without displacement in their neighborhood. The Binghampton Community Land Trust was incorporated in August of 2018. Here Joni Laney, long-time resident of Binghampton, President of the Binghampton Community Land Trust and CTC Board Member, shares the story of the land trust and invites you to help this dream become a reality through a video contest!

In January of 2017, a group of neighborhood residents gathered in the fellowship hall of the Commons. There were Latino families, African families, African American families and Caucasian families - we overflowed the tables and had to set up more. During our time together, groups around the table dreamed about what the neighborhood could look like. One of the dreams shared by everyone was that of affordable housing. Most of the families had been renting for five, ten, fifteen, even twenty years and were longing for a home to call their own.

That was the start of the brainstorming that led to the Binghampton Community Land Trust (BLCT).

Amy Moritz, Executive Director of Center for Transforming Communities, reminded us of conversations we had had several years ago about land banking and land trusts, and how they preserve housing so that developers and absentee landlords can’t have access to it. She drew diagrams and described to us what we could do if we started a land trust.

Community Land Trust (CLT) is a shared equity housing model that has been around since the 1960s but has recently gained a lot of attention as a tool for promoting both affordable homeownership and neighborhood revitalization. In this model, a home-buyer purchases the house and leases the land from the trust. With the cost of the land removed, the home is more affordable. When they owner wants to sell they take some equity but leave some with the home, which is how the home remains permanently affordable for future generations.

With nearly 250 CLTs across the U.S., this model has never been implemented in Memphis. Binghampton is the perfect place to launch it. Not only will the BCLT benefit Binghampton neighbors, it will provide Memphis a new model for affordable housing, a new strategy for insuring that development does not displace, and a community development tool for realizing diversity, equity and inclusion.

The BCLT formed out of the hopes and dreams of immigrant and refugee families for their own homes. It was formed out of the conviction that no one should be priced out of owning their own home by someone with an intention to only make money. And it was formed out of the passion for community that has emerged in this little neighborhood of Binghampton.

We have sat around the table – Spanish-speakers and English speakers - and worked through the

incorporation papers. We have hammered out by-laws. We have drawn our hopes and dreams about housing. We have walked the neighborhood and inventoried housing. And we have shared in the dream of slowing down the gentrification happening in the neighborhood so that families can stay – stay in a place where children play in the park, where one can hear a variety of languages being spoken, where we stand with neighbors when ICE vans show up, where we take care of each other and the gardens and where we know each other’s names.

Our dream of the community land trust is much bigger than just land itself. It is the promise of all of us caring for each other and nurturing shalom in the neighborhood. It is the hope that everyone, no matter where we are from, can join in and call this little corner of Memphis home.

The First Tennessee Foundation is hosting a video contest. The Binghampton Community Land Trust is eligible to receive up to $25,000! We need your help! We need YOU to vote for us! To vote for our video, please click here! You can vote once per day. Voting ends on August 31, 2018.

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