Weathering the Storm

In 2010, the conversation began in Detroit and especially the North End about what a community land trust would look like in Detroit and if there was a need for the conversation about land trust, at all.  There were about 40 people present for that meeting.  Some of the folks in on the conversation were from non profit organizations in and around the North End, in fact,  Midtown Inc. was present. Some were community members and there were even one or two folks from the City.  People left the meeting not impressed with the possibility of a CLT in Detroit.  Little did we know that the storm was coming.  I had heard of "death by a thousand cuts" but was not prepared for how the "strategic"  events of the next 3 or 4 years would bring about that "death" in our communities.  

The truth of the matter is, in the past decade, our community, Detroit has experienced over 110,000 foreclosure.  And to add to that, last year over 23,000 Detroit homes had their water shut off. People who had fought the "cut" of foreclosure and had stayed did so only to receive another "cut".  Water shut off.

 What we saw in 2010 as "the tale of two cities" is a full blow reality today.  In a city were 40% of the people live in poverty and many are paying 10% of their income for water alone, people are being driven out of their homes.  Foreclosure continue at record highs while downtown and midtown are bustling "can't get enough, can't build enough places.  While this story doesn't want for telling, my role is to let you see inside the progress of the CLT..

In November of 2015, the Community Land Trust conversation left the "just talk" phase and entered into reality.  While the past 9 months have not been easy times, not for the Storehouse of Hope and certainly not for the 15 families on the city's first CLT.  I think the operative phase here is "attitude shift".  The years have taught us a certain set of "how we deal withs".  How we deal with tenants.  How we deal with Landlords.  How we deal with ownership.  And perhaps a million others how to's.  These "how to's" are like tapes that play in our heads.  

Just to give you an example.  We are "stewards" of the CLT.  When we have a family that is in crisis, we carry food from our pantry to that household.  Folks in the household see us as landlords.  The landlord shows up to collect rent, not to bring a basket of food.  We see them as families on the trust, who not only think of themselves today, but what is good for the community land trust over the next 5 or 10 years.  They see themselves as tenants, not responsible for what happens to the future, just what is in their need for today.  

Remember the families did not select a CLT.  They had no knowledge of how it operated or it's expectations.  No pre-class was given.  We just saw a need, understood how this concept had worked in other places.  Had an urgency to do something and to save families and move with that compassion to act.  Grossly underfunded.  Without a city that care to help because it's focused on big development, not big salvation.

Five of the families out of the 15 homes purchased choose not to remain.  The real point here is to say, today, we are still growing in explaining and teaching what a Community Land Trust is all about and what the values are to community.  Value for today and for tomorrow.  

We are beginning to hole "HopeBuilder" Sessions.  Since we are the Storehouse of Hope,  that names seems appropriate.  HopeBuilder Sessions will be held quarterly, for one hour to bring community (all sectors) in to let them hear about CLT's.  These are outreach efforts, not fundraising events and they are designed to an overview of the CLT.  We've got a whole city to educate and a lifetime of "attitude shifts" to establish.  Come and join us.