Molly Metzger, senior lecturer at the Brown School, and Washington University in St. Louis students in her policy course have partnered with Webster Groves city council members and St. Louis’ Green City Coalition on a series of projects connected to the planning of community land trusts. They aim to improve equitable opportunities for housing.

“Housing policy fundamentally shapes the landscape of opportunity, but it’s often technical and wonky, and the policy process often excludes the communities most affected,” said Metzger, faculty director at Brown School’s Center for Social Development and expert on fair and equitable housing. “My hope in bringing social work students into the realm of housing policy is that they will keep their feet on the ground, listening to the communities that have been harmed by racist housing policies generation after generation, in order to help to move us toward a more just system.”

A community land trust (CLT) is a nonprofit corporation that holds land on behalf of a place-based community, while serving as the long-term steward for affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces and other community assets on behalf of a community.

“The model emerged out of the Civil Rights Movement as one means by which historically oppressed communities could reclaim control of housing and land-use decisions, in order to create more equitable opportunities and realize housing justice,” Metzger said.

The intention of the “Envisioning Community Land Trust” series is to make scholarship on CLTs more accessible to the public, in order to foster robust community engagement concerning new possibilities for this model in the St. Louis region.

The collaboration was supported by a community planning grant from the Gephardt Institute.

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