RCPL Faculty Member Receives Grant from NYU Furman Center for Research on Community Land Trusts

Dr. C. Aujean Lee recently received a grant from the NYU Furman Center’s Housing Innovation in Small and Midsize Cities program for her research proposal, “Community Land Trusts in Welcoming Cities: Building Inclusive Housing Models for Immigrants.” The grant, provided through funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Housing Solutions Lab at NYU Furman Center, was awarded to only three proposals.

With her collaborators Drs. Shakil Kashem (Kansas State University) and Dwayne Baker (Queens College), Dr. Lee’s project examines the intersection of inclusive housing for immigrants in small and midsize Welcoming Cities, focusing on community land trusts (CLTs). Homeownership remains the largest source of wealth for most families of color and housing stability is linked to physical and mental health outcomes and access to affordable health care. CLTs have the potentials to become an effective path to homeownership for immigrants.

CLTs have been used to combat low-income displacement, provide community control, and rehabilitate housing for communities of color and tribes. CLTs also had lower foreclosure rates than other homes during the Great Recession, highlighting their potential economic benefits for low-income households. Yet, CLTs comprise less than 1% of the country’s housing. Furthermore, CLTs can be beneficial for small and midsize cities to expand housing options because they have more affordable land than larger cities.

As CLTs began to expand in number, immigrants have also grown in number and diversified. Though first arriving in major coastal gateways (e.g., New York City, San Francisco), they are resettling in small and midsize cities due to affordable housing and employment opportunities. Many of these jurisdictions recognize the benefits of immigrants in revitalizing their communities and joined the Welcoming Cities Initiative to support the immigrant integration in these new destinations. Cities and counties with Welcoming Cities designation outline seven programs and policies to support immigrants (e.g., civic engagement or education). However, housing is not an explicit component.

Dr. Lee’s study will explore the connection between Welcoming Cities and CLTs by developing a national database of CLTs and conducting interviews with CLT staff and government stakeholders in three case studies in which CLTs are incorporating immigrants. The findings will provide recommendations for Welcoming City programs and housing practitioners in small and midsize cities.

The NYU Furman Center’s Housing Solutions Lab awards aim to generate new housing policy knowledge and help identify evidence-based local housing policies that may promote racial equity, increase access to opportunity, and improve health and well-being for residents. The selected projects were awarded based on policy relevance, research design, innovation, and their focus on addressing housing disparities. To read more about the Housing Solutions Lab and the other projects that received this funding, click here.