How best to meet the growing need for affordable housing has been a question frequently raised over several years in Lexington. Creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund is one of the latest milestones in our progress on the issue. The question remains, however: How do we make the most sustained impact with limited public funds?
This conversation will continue during this year's National CLT Network Conference hosted by Lexington Community Land Trust Oct. 19-22. The conference will bring together more than 300 affordable-housing professionals from around the country and abroad to deepen their knowledge about community land trusts and the power of permanently affordable housing, a concept relatively new to Kentucky.
Hosting this conference will mark another first for the Lexington non-profit, which is not only the first CLT in Kentucky, but also the first CLT created by and partnering with a federally funded road project.
The unprecedented decision by the Newtown Pike Extension Project to use a CLT to preserve the diverse, low-income neighborhood of Davis Bottom will showcase Lexington as a model of innovative partnerships in permanently affordable housing. This played a major role in the selection of Lexington as the conference site.
This year's conference, titled Intersections, will highlight the collaboration between Lexington CLT and the Newtown Pike Extension Project through a special track of classes for transportation and affordable housing professionals.
The track will use the partnership to demonstrate a new way to mitigate the long-term impact of road projects on residents at high risk of displacement, particularly low-income and/or communities of color. The classes will also teach housing practitioners how to partner with a transportation project and provide permanently affordable replacement housing and other community assets.
The combined leadership of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Lexington-Fayette County Urban County Government and the Federal Highway Administration will speak about what made this ambitious partnership possible. For example, project team members worked to find the best way to keep residents in the neighborhood if they wished to stay and to improve the condition of the neighborhood, which had been disinvested over the decades — in part due to the long anticipation of the Newtown Pike Extension.
The project team took community input as essential in shaping a neighborhood plan, taking into account residents' concerns about encroachment of student housing and their housing design preferences. This focus on resident engagement is further reflected in the board structure, which requires one-third to be residents of CLT housing.
CLTs have become an increasingly popular affordable housing tool for many cities, especially those where low-income communities are at risk of displacement and/or have limited access to homeownership. They have also been praised for their economic sustainability because they allow for a one-time infusion of public and/or private dollars to keep a home affordable in perpetuity. CLTs achieve this sustainability through:
■ Ownership and stewardship of the land for the benefit of the community.
■ Long-term, renewable land leases.
■ A limited resale formula, guaranteeing that the house will be sold to another low-income buyer at an affordable price.
Lexington CLT's first development will be stewarding Davis Park (formerly Davis Bottom); protecting residents from unwanted development and market forces; and preserving permanently affordable for-sale and rental homes.
As part of the national conference, the documentary Davis Bottom: Rare History, Valuable Lives will be shown 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19 at the Kentucky Theatre. We invite the public to attend this free screening, sponsored by Stites & Harbison. It will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker and others involved in the Davis Bottom project.