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Championing Affordable Housing

One of 11th Street Bridge Park's equitable development strategies has focused on affordable housing. Credit: Becky Harlan, 11th Street Bridge Park.

As the leader of Washington, DC’s 11th Street Bridge Park, Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) is helping to address decades of disinvestment in the nearby majority-Black Anacostia neighborhood in Ward 8. Their equitable development plan includes affordable housing strategies that aim to avoid displacing longtime residents—and they have formed several strong partnerships to that end. 

BBAR held tenant rights workshops and partnered with nonprofit developer Manna to launch the Ward 8 Home Buyers Club. The Club offered financial education and peer support at monthly meetings and, 99 Ward 8 renters have gone on to buy their own homes since participating. 

BBAR also started a discussion about community land trusts (CLTs). (CLTs are nonprofits that purchase and hold land, often for the purpose of offering permanently affordable housing that low-income residents can lease or own. The CLT model is used across the US to sustainably address displacement in neighborhoods where rents are rising rapidly.) They created a CLT Advisory Committee made up of community members. BBAR put them through leadership training, sent them to CLT conferences, and raised funds for early property acquisition. They also reached out to City First Homes (CFH)— DC-based nonprofit with permanent affordability mortgage programs and ample experience in this field. After four years of work, Douglass Community Land Trust (DCLT) became a full-fledged, community-led nonprofit. . 

Both BBAR and CFH agreed from the start that any CLT they fostered would be completely independent and community controlled. DCLT is controlled by a Board of community residents (two-thirds) and expert advisors (one-third).  

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