I attended Cooperation Jackson’s Kali Akuno presentation at SOCAP’s Neighborhood Economics in September. We met for breakfast one day and Kali provided an update on Cooperation Jackson’s strategy and challenges. One of the aims of Cooperation Jackson is to maintain affordable housing through a community land trust.

A community land trust is generally a not for profit entity, that owns property. The property can be developed for residential purposes, but the land trust enforces restrictions on equity and resale price. These restrictions maintain affordability.

With thirty properties in its portfolio, Cooperation Jackson seems poised to begin meeting the needs of Jackson residents in need of affordable housing.  Yet there are glitches.

First is the lack of regulation by the state government.

Lack of regulation?  How can that be a problem?

Kali pointed out that states some states have time tested a legal framework for community land trusts. Mississippi does not.  The lack of legislation and regulation makes beginning development easy. But once the land trust begins development, entrenched interests from real estate developers to local zoning officials will take notice.  Lack of legislation and regulation makes challenging or stopping the project easy.

The second glitch is raising the funding to develop the properties.

The community land trust movement in America was developed by those who were historically denied access to credit. Cooperation Jackson funds their operation by developing urban farming and other small business operations on their current properties. But the derived income does not provide enough to develop affordable housing.

Cooperation Jackson has plans to create a community development bank to fund affordable home construction. It may require the participation of anchor institutions as well as foundations and social entrepreneurs who believe in the promise of inclusive and affordable property in Jackson, Mississippi.

Extracted from: http://www.cooperationjackson.org/http://www.cooperationjackson.org/intro

Cooperation Jackson is an emerging vehicle for sustainable community development, economic democracy, and community ownership.

Our vision is to develop a cooperative network based in Jackson, Mississippi that will consist of four interconnected and interdependent institutions: an emerging federation of local worker cooperatives, a developing cooperative incubator, a cooperative education and training center (the Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development), and a cooperative bank or financial institution.

Economic democracy provides economic empowerment for all workers, distributors, suppliers, consumers, communities and the general public by promoting universal access to common resources, democratizing the ownership of the means of production, and democratizing all the essential processes of production and distribution through worker self-management and sustainable consumption.

Solidarity economy includes a wide array of economic practices and initiatives that share common values – cooperation and sharing, social responsibility, sustainability, equity and justice. Instead of enforcing a culture of cutthroat competition, it builds cultures and communities of cooperation.


Community Wealth Building Initiative

As an emerging network of cooperative enterprises, Cooperation Jackson is striving to reduce the income and equity gaps that exist in our community, as well as address the severe unemployment and underemployment, low wages, inadequate health coverage, and substandard housing that plague our community. One of the primary strategies we are pursuing in the attempt to reduce these gaps and address these issues is a comprehensive place-based development initiative centered around creating worker-owned cooperative enterprises that partner with and serve the supply chain or service needs of the various Anchor institutions in our community. We call this our “Community Wealth Building Initiative.”


Our Vision of Sustainable Community Development

We will accomplish all of the aforementioned outcomes by establishing the following institutions:

1. Community Land Trust (CLT): Cooperation Jackson will purchase a number of vacant lots, abandoned homes and commercial facilities primarily in West Jackson currently owned by the State of Mississippi, the City of Jackson, and private owners, organizing them into a Community Land Trust. The purpose of holding them in a trust is to ensure that they are removed from the speculative market and dedicated for sustainable communal endeavors.

2. Community Development Corporation (CDC): Cooperation Jackson will create a Community Development Corporation or CDC to help develop new low-income housing to sustain working class communities and affordable commercial facilities to support the development of cooperative enterprises in Jackson.

3. Housing Co-operative: Cooperation Jackson will turn a significant portion of the land and properties acquired and held by the CLT into an “Eco-Village” Housing Cooperative. The Housing Cooperative will provide quality affordable housing and stable rents to help sustain and build vibrant working class communities in Jackson. It will also create a significant degree of its own energy and waste management infrastructure to ensure that it can more effectively and efficiently utilize alternative sources of energy and eliminate waste by creating a comprehensive “zero-waste” recycling program.

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