In the Great Recession of 2007–2009, Boston’s communities of color were hit hard. A 2009 map of foreclosures looked like a map of the communities of color—Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. The one island of stability was a section of Roxbury called the Dudley Triangle—home to the community land trust of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI).

Originally established to respond to the community’s vision of “development without displacement,” the land trust model was adopted to help residents gain control of land and to use that control to prevent families from being priced out as they organized to improve their neighborhood. They were successful. Today, DSNI’s community land trust—called Dudley Neighbors, Inc. (DNI)—accommodates 225 units of permanently affordable housing, commercial and nonprofit space, a park/playground, a mini-orchard and garden, a 1.5-acre urban farm, and a community greenhouse. The land trust has proven to be crucial in the community’s progress, an anchor for the continuing neighborhood investment toward its vision of an urban village and in preventing displacement in a hot real estate market.

DNI’s recent performance in the face of the collapse of housing markets was just as stunning and less anticipated. Protective features of the land trust mean that there have been no subprime mortgages, and therefore no foreclosures due to predatory loans. Other features allowed the land trust to work with homeowners to prevent foreclosure on conventional mortgages.

DSNI’s land trust benefits low- to moderate-income families and the broader neighborhood. By safeguarding families in their homes, DNI stabilizes the community as a whole.


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