Why land trusts work

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By Tim Redmond

We've been watching the community land trust concept for years, and I've personally pushed this as a major solution to the housing crisis in the city. And now even the Chronicle is noticing: In a recent Chinatown deal, tenants are able to buy their apartments for just $10,000 -- and those units will be affordable forever.

The beauty of a land trust is that it takes housing entirely out of the speculative market. Not to go all Marxist or anything, but it separates the "commodity value" (what you can sell a piece of property for) from the "use value" (the fact that it's a place to live, not some sort of stock-market index option). Since the private market has been utterly unable to provide affordable housing in San Francisco, and public-sector resources are far too limited to solve the entire problem, land trusts are a great way to keep low-income tenants from losing their homes.