East LA Community Corporation

Ending housing insecurity in high-cost cities through community land control

Housing development

ELACC’s solution will contribute to ending the global housing epidemic by increasing collective ownership of land, home, and work by and for low-income families.

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Lead Organization

East LA Community Corporation

Los Angeles, California, United States


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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

The price of urban land has locked-out low and moderate-income families from renting or owning homes. Displacement from social networks, jobs, and cultural communities further marginalizes populations already vulnerable to the impacts of a changing economy, climate, and growing hostility towards immigrants and people in need. Our approach to mitigating the housing crisis transforms how homes and communities work for people. ELACC produces, preserves, and protects affordable housing using interventions that keep land affordable in perpetuity, helping families remain in their communities without working more and spending less in their local economy. Implemented together and through shared cultural processes, subsidized rentals, innovations such as land trusts and limited-equity housing, and wealth building programs, can stabilize entire regions. Our varied approach results in diffuse options that meet the needs of diverse households, and when brought to scale, can radically change the lives of families on the brink of homelessness or displacement.

Problem Statement

Development pressures in US metropolises are displacing low- and moderate-income households, forcing families to choose among struggling to pay rent for adequate housing, living in substandard conditions, or moving from their community, eroding social capital and deteriorating mental and physical health. By many measures, Los Angeles County has the worst housing crisis in the country. Since 2000, median rents rose by 32%, while income by just 3%. Last year, homelessness rose by 16%, with three-quarters of individuals reporting that at one point they had stable housing nearby. Renters are increasingly at risk of housing insecurity. In LA County, the 62% rate of rent burden equates to 610,000 households on the brink of homelessness, and that figure is conservative. MacArthur funds will catalyze ELACC’s momentum and deepen our impact in neighborhoods where gentrification has not fully taken hold. Our work in Boyle Heights, one of the lowest-income, oldest Latinx neighborhoods in Los Angeles has given us a unique perspective and experience in the best way to tackle housing insecurity in our region and others nationwide. In Boyle Heights, families earn about 40% less than the county median, with a third of residents in poverty. Urban communities in major cities across the country are grappling with conscious development without displacement. While displacement and gentrification are not new or uncommon to Los Angeles, ELACC is in a position to model the evolution of strategies for community development organizations across the country, particularly high market cities, to stabilize communities and expand ownership strategies.

Solution Overview

ELACC believes a new system, led by those most impacted by inequity, is necessary to combat housing insecurity. Community land trusts (CLTs) are both a comprehensive community development strategy and autonomous organizations that steward land in perpetuity to cultivate affordable homeownership, businesses, and agriculture. ELACC will use CLTs to expand community control of land in Los Angeles to preserve and uplift neighborhoods destabilized by the housing market. By bringing CLTs to scale, we will intensify our impact, directly serving hundreds of low-income households and impacting thousands more. Our solution offers an alternative to the speculative market and fosters economic stability for families and businesses that will benefit from sustaining the existing population. Through permanent affordability, we will diversify our toolbox beyond programs such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), vouchers, or other scarce, and often time-limited in their affordability, public financing to develop housing. Through our engagement, residents traditionally locked-out of decision-making will design and reside in new and renovated neighborhood housing. Our sites will rebuild social capital and build wealth through our Cultural Vitality and Asset and Wealth Building programs, further decreasing the likelihood of housing insecurity. All homes will be climate resilient and improve the built environment.We will know we are progressing when new tools are available for permanent affordability and discourse shifts to include shared ownership. Over five years, ELACC will develop housing for at least 300 low-income families. However, the permanence of affordability will create a foundation to house hundreds more after the grant.

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Project Funders

  • The California Endowment 2006 - 2018
  • Citi Progress Makers 2017 - 2019
  • California Community Foundation 2006 - 2019

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