City First Enterprises believes that affordable, stable housing represents a vital foothold for people in low-income communities in terms of economic security and mobility, and physical and mental health. We boast a history of working to create and preserve affordable housing through lending, via our shared equity programs and, more recently, through our work to launch Washington DC’s first Community Land Trust (CLT) of scale – all with a primary focus on Anacostia.
Land trusts help families in their homes and communities under a proven share-equity model that develops and preserves permanently affordable housing in neighborhoods over generations. CFE’s effort is focused on preventing displacement or homelessness of lower- and middle-income households in the rapidly changing housing market in Anacostia, and in DC more broadly.
For the past three years, CFE partnered with the Anacostia-based Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR), a local non profit that has been leading the effort to create an elevated bridge park to be constructed over the the piers that once supported the old 11th Street Bridge.The proposed Bridge Park is intended to bridge the divide – literally and symbolically – that has segregated Washington for decades, and link historic Anacostia with the affluent Capitol Hill neighborhoods to the east. From the beginning of this effort, community engagement and feedback were central, not just to the design of the Bridge Park but to the broader goal of inclusive economic growth. The resulting Equitable Development Plan included the recommendation to establish a CLT as a nonprofit, community-based organizations with a mission to provide permanently affordable housing by owning land and leasing it for housing built at reduced cost.
The effort to establish a CLT based in Anacostia, now known as the Douglass CLT, represents an innovative endeavor: a focused, nonprofit real estate market intervention to preserve and protect affordable housing in Washington, DC. Why? Because the window for affordable housing protection and preservation is closing, and the CLT will benefit existing families that are economically vulnerable. The CLT would, among other priorities, actively maintain affordable housing stocks while reducing involuntary residential displacement (resulting from gentrification), particularly for low-income families in areas east of the Anacostia River.