Community Land Cooperatives And Neighborhood Economic Development

Ecovillagers Alliance is a nonprofit initiative of educators, organizers, systems engineers, and storytellers. We came together from a crazy quilt of past attempts to establish community control of land and buildings by different models—co-ops, land trusts, co-housing, communes—none of which quite addressed the inhumane realities of modern urban real estate. So we went back to the drawing board to ask: what instrument of neighborhood real estate stewardship would be democratic, just, and sustainable?

Now we are organizing a real estate investment cooperative for the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, with the exclusive purpose of incubating, funding, and assisting what we call “community land cooperatives,” at a micro-neighborhood level of roughly one-half to one city block. Each community land co-op, similarly to a community land trust, will serve as a permanent owner of the neighborhood’s land and buildings, removing them from the speculative marketplace. The community land co-op provides a way for residents (and community businesses) to own shares instead of properties and to access a unified, holistic decision-making process around development, management, and rents for homes and commercial spaces sharing the block.

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