Below is content from ULC’s Communications Intern, Clayton Vye

Earlier this year, Urban Land Conservancy’s (ULC) President and CEO, Aaron Miripol sat down with Wendy Ring and Brian Curtis of the climate action podcast, Cool Solutions. The discussion, “Stopping the Gentrification Train” centered on an issue often associated with transit-oriented developments (TODs) – gentrification.

Oftentimes when a transit site is identified by a municipality, a flood of developers rush in, eager to build on what they know could soon be valuable property. Rapid land speculation raises rental and housing prices well beyond what the neighborhood is accustomed to – or “gentrification on steroids” as Ring would say.

These developments often place families, community serving businesses and cultural institutions at serious risk of being pushed from their communities. The consequences can be severe, as children potentially switch school districts and residents relying on public transit are forced to become car dependent. While TODs have many great intentions and benefits, they can be unintentionally deficient in social equity.

Enter the Urban Land Conservancy. By owning the land under developments through our Community Land Trust (CLT), ULC acts as a permanent steward of the land. Miripol envisioned this alternative working as a tenant organizer in Chicago where he witnessed the gaps created by government agencies as property fell through the cracks and became market rate apartments.

“Working with renters in buildings that were owned by slumlords, having the property taken to the court, and basically having the court appointing a receiver… I saw both private as well as nonprofit affordable rental housing get lost and go to the market,” explained Miripol. “Folks living in those buildings had to relocate because they were getting priced out.”

Even when affordable housing does become available to those who need it most, the housing typically expires anywhere between 15 to 60 years. Following the end of the affordable restrictions, rents can immediately rise to market rate prices.

“I was playing a role in a very reactive way,” said Miripol. “How do we make sure that what we do today isn’t lost in 15, 20, 30, 40 years? That is why owning the land is so key.”

ULC holds a 99 year ground lease here at the Jack A. Vickers Boys and Girls Club to ensure long term community impact for current and future generations.
ULC holds a 99 year ground lease here at the Jack A. Vickers Boys and Girls Club to ensure long term community impact for current and future generations.

For more than 10 years, ULC has incorporated the CLT model into many of our real estate investments. To date, ULC has six properties within our CLT. These properties include a Boys & Girls Club serving hundreds of local community youth each year and the future development of 66 units of permanently affordable housing along a major transit corridor. We recognize the importance of investing in the land to ensure long term community benefit, and believe the CLT model is a proven tool in the prevention of displacement for both residents and nonprofits alike.

ULC would like to thank the Cool Solutions team for including ULC as one of the many organizations working to mitigate the effects of displacement and gentrification. We recognize that it will take innovative solutions and dedicated partnerships to ensure both families and businesses can remain in their neighborhoods.

To listen to the entire 28 minute podcast, you can visit the Cool Solutions website here.