As the population rises and rental prices soar, the Denver Metro area is currently facing a critical lack of affordable housing, commercial and school facility space. The most recent data estimates that the metro area alone lacks close to 80,000 affordable units. As the region seeks to find solutions to the rise in displacement, primarily through the increased production of affordable housing, the problem persists. The Denver premier of “Arc of Justice” took place on May 20-21, 2016, demonstrating how powerful land ownership is in combatting displacement through the creation of Community Land Trusts (CLTs).
Aaron Miripol, CEO of local real estate nonprofit Urban Land Conservancy, recognizes the importance of CLTs in preserving the affordability of Denver’s housing and facility space, “As someone who has worked on Community Land Trusts for over 20 years, we can now see the story of how it came to be. This film documents why land ownership is transformative and how CLTs are a proven solution to ensure that housing, schools and nonprofits are not lost in changing real estate markets across the country.”
“Arc of Justice” is a 20-minute documentary produced by Open Studio Productions that tells the story of New Communities Inc. (NCI), the first CLT that has subsequently inspired hundreds of like-minded organizations across the globe. Founded in Georgia in 1970, NCI was a 6,000 acre property created during the African-American struggle for civil rights. After a series of battles, primarily due to the Jim Crow laws of the south, NCI lost its land to foreclosure. However in 2010, after twelve years of legal struggle, a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded in the largest civil rights settlement in U.S. history. The CLT continues to exist today, and the solutions offered throughout the course of the film must be considered as Metro Denver works to reverse displacement occurring in neighborhoods throughout the region.
“Rose Community Foundation has always supported innovative, long-term and collaborative solutions to make life better in the Greater Denver community, said Anne Garcia, chief financial officer of Rose Community Foundation. “While our grantmaking does not directly support community land trusts, we believe they are an important tool in working towards many of the goals that are important to our work, including family self-sufficiency, equality of opportunity and access to community resources.”
There are currently five community land trusts operating in Colorado, and only one that focuses on both housing and community facility space. “Arc of Justice” offers a historic solution to the problem of displacement. Given the current lack of resources available for the creation and preservation of affordable real estate, communities must take notice that the power to preserve affordability lives in the ground, land is power.