All around Broome County, the issue of homelessness and housing insecurity is a reality that some families face on a daily basis — in 2017, over 1,700 people faced homelessness in Broome County, according to a policy recommendation written by the Broome County Anti-Poverty Advisory Council. Now, a new community group aims to tackle the issue.
The Broome Community Land Trust (BCLT) hopes to create a local land trust to help fight housing insecurity.
A community land trust (CLT) is a method of keeping housing prices down by having the CLT buy and continue to own the land while community members buy the home while leasing the land it is on, creating a system of lifelong leases. The homeowners, if they want to sell the home, then agree to sell it at an affordable rate for the next family.
Working toward fair housing practices is what inspired Amber Johnson, 27, of Bainbridge, to get involved with the BCLT.
“I’ve had housing insecurities myself and I’ve also just purchased a home myself,” Johnson said. “To understand how difficult this process is and to have this opportunity to make it easier for people, especially for people of color [and] younger people, to own land and also keeping property in the community is really important. So combining all these things, this was a priority for me to make sure this actually happened.”
In a county where 17.1 percent of residents live below the poverty line, according to Data USA, BCLT organizers said they believe getting their message out to the community is of utmost importance. On Jan. 29, the BCLT hosted their launch party, where they taught community members how community control of land can make the housing market more affordable for Broome County residents. After a presentation showing community members how to get involved with the project, attendees ate refreshments and talked to organizers about their mission.
James Patterson, 27, of Binghamton, said he was interested in what BCLT hopes to accomplish for the community and wanted to learn how a CLT can be used to make the local housing market more accessible.
“It was eye-opening,” Patterson said. “I’m interested in trying to help rebuild the community and housing, especially homelessness. I’m always going to have an open ear to stuff like this.”
Although the group has only been active since February 2019, they hope that their launch party will prompt attendees of Tuesday’s event to return and stay active within the organization. Josh Enderle, 24, of Binghamton, said he plans on staying the course with BCLT.
“The idea sounded appealing to me,” Enderle said. “Just having more community power and direction of how we build community both physically and relationship-wise is one of my focuses, especially since Binghamton is my home. People are worrying about this and it’s a serious issue and we’re finally addressing this as a community and not just waiting for other people to do it for us.”
Johnson said she hopes more people will take charge in their community and fight against housing injustice.
“It’s always great to have these events and a bunch of people come, but if we never see them again it’s really sad,” Johnson said. “This is something that affects everybody. Regardless if you need housing, you’ll know someone that this could benefit so I would take away that this is really great so they should come back and be a part of it.”