How We Build Our Neighborhoods


We envision a world in which safe and quality homes are a human right — where our housing system and policies are rooted in community, participation, equity, and anti-displacement.

Housing is a key determinant in one’s access to quality education, work, environment, health, and security. Yet private homeownership — touted as the primary means of acquiring financial wealth and security for everyday Americans — has become increasingly elusive, as exploitation of the housing market by real estate speculators, corporate landlords, and Wall Street drives wealth inequality and reinforces a social caste system that locks people — especially Black, Indigenous, migrant communities and women and gender nonconforming people — into poverty and out of opportunity.

Democratically-governed housing models — including community land trusts, housing cooperatives, and resident-owned communities — can address the root causes of displacement by removing land from the speculative market and ensure access to affordable, safe, quality housing. These models support development without displacement, making sure that residents — not private developers — are in control of determining the future of their communities.

Federal, state, and local governments must embrace the following public policies that support community land trusts, housing cooperatives, resident-owned communities, and other models that help lock in permanent affordability and ensure community control.

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Resource and incentivize community-owned and democratically-controlled housing solutions
  • Make 50% of publicly owned vacant land available to community-owned / democratically-controlled housing at nominal or below-market prices
  • Move privately owned vacant properties into land banks accountable to communities for disposition, with priority to community-owned / democratically-controlled housing models
  • Prioritize funding for community-owned / democratically-controlled housing in Local Housing Trust Funds and housing spending
  • Prioritize and expand public subsidies available to enable deeper affordability, and prioritize permanently affordable, community-controlled developments
  • Require building, rehabbing, or funding of community owned/ democratically-controlled housing in exchange for public subsidies and/or land use accommodations provided to for-profit developers
  • Remove barriers to existing and new housing cooperatives including the cap number of unrelated persons that can live in a dwelling and minimum parking requirements
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Preserve existing affordable housing and protect residents from involuntary displacement
  • Give residents and communities a right of first refusal in private building sales
  • Adopt and enforce rent control, just cause eviction, and tenant right to counsel
  • Preserve zoning statuses for affordable manufactured housing
  • Remove local regulatory barriers to accessory dwelling units and encourage state adoption of accessory dwelling unit acts
  • Disincentive speculative flipping or sitting of properties, through, for example, flip taxes and second home taxes.
  • Invest in, rebuild, and rehab public housing and develop democratic, resident control over public housing
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Democratize the housing finance system by enabling Public Banking and community funding models
  • Democratize the housing finance system by enabling Public Banking and community funding models such as Permanent Real Estate Co-operatives, Community Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), and other collective platforms
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Case Studies

East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative

Scale of policy change (local, state, national): Local

WHOEast Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, a group of Oakland residents, supported by the Sustainable Economies Law Center  

WHATa democratic, People of Color led cooperative that takes land and housing off the speculative market to create permanently affordable, community controlled land and housing. 

WHERE – Oakland, CA

WHEN – Incorporated in 2017. 

WHY – To address the housing crisis due to the speculative market and rampant gentrification in the Bay Area, specifically in Oakland. 

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