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Louisiana Land Trust Resettlement Projects

In Louisiana, a state-created land trust is supporting floodplain buyouts and helping families relocate out of vulnerable flood-prone areas. The Louisiana Land Trust (LLT) was created in 2005 to support buyouts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After more recent flood events, LLT expanded its role to help communities relocate to safer, higher ground areas. The land trust is helping to facilitate the resettlement of residents of the Pecan Acres subdivision in Pointe Coupee Parish and the Isle de Jean Charles community in Terrebonne Parish. The Pecan Acres subdivision is located in a lower-income neighborhood north of the City of New Roads, and has experienced repeated flooding 17 times over the past 20 years. LLT is working to help resettle approximately 40 households within the subdivision by acquiring their flood-prone properties, and supporting a development on higher ground where they can relocate. Isle de Jean Charles is a narrow island in South Terrebonne parish and is the home of the Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees and United Houma Nation tribes. The island has lost 98% of its land mass since 1955 and many residents have left as a result of increasing flooding, where encroaching seas often flood the only roadway connecting the island to the mainland. With funding from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, the state is working to support implementation of a tribal resettlement plan. LLT acquired the resettlement site, about 40 miles north of the island that will be redeveloped. Eligible and participating families and individuals will be offered properties on the site with a five-year forgivable mortgage. Both the Pecan Acres and Isle de Jean Charles resettlement developments will incorporate resilient and green design features (including elevation about FEMA minimum standards, LEED certified construction, green infrastructure, and community amenities like parks) and will enable the residents to relocate together, maintaining social bonds and cohesion. This example demonstrates how land trusts can support efforts to relocate whole communities, and support development of sustainable and resilient receiving communities.

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Georgetown Climate Center Managed Retreat Toolkit

July 15, 2020

Managed retreat, or the voluntary movement and transition of people and ecosystems away from vulnerable coastal areas, is increasingly becoming part of the conversation as coastal states and communities face difficult questions on how best to protect people, development, infrastructure, and coastal ecosystems from sea-level rise, flooding, and land loss. Georgetown Climate Center’s new Managed Retreat Toolkit combines legal and policy tools, best and emerging practices, and case studies to support peer learning and decisionmaking around managed retreat and climate adaptation. 

Authors or Affiliated Users: Georgetown Climate Center, Katie Spidalieri, Annie Bennett

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Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Boston, Massachusetts

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts is one of the first examples of a city-land trust partnership designed to address a range of community challenges including housing affordability, and racial and economic inequality. In the 1980s, DSNI created the community land trust, Dudley Neighbors, Inc. (DNI) to combat blight in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood, which as a result of disinvestment had numerous vacant properties and became a frequent site for dumping and arson. The goal of the land trust was to facilitate redevelopment of the neighborhood without displacing existing residents and to empower community control over future development. DNI acquired 60 acres of land and currently stewards 225 units of affordable housing, an urban farm, a greenhouse, a charter school, parks, and a town common.  The DSNI is also notable because of the unique partnership with the City of Boston. The City granted the land trust eminent domain authority to condemn lands in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood and provided the land trust significant financial resources to support the development of affordable housing and other community projects in the neighborhood. DSNI’s work has helped to enhance the resilience of the community by preventing displacement in the face of rapid gentrification in the city, enhancing food security for residents, creating and stewarding green space that help to reduce urban heat islands, and by increasing social cohesion in the neighborhood through community activities and a community-led governing Board. DSNI shows how innovative public-partnerships between land trusts and cities can be fostered to address climate resilience and other community stressors, such as the lack of affordable housing, blight, and disinvestment.

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

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New York State Resilient NY Flood Mitigation Studies, Buyouts, and Floodplain Restoration Projects

2018

Multiple serious flood events, hurricanes, and storms have prompted New York State’s (NYS) Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to develop a range of mitigation and adaptation initiatives to address future flood hazards and improve community resilience. The state is completing a series of Flood and Ice Jam Mitigation Studies within 48 high-priority watersheds across New York State - as a part of an initiative called Resilient NY - to identify the causes of flooding and ice jams and to evaluate priority mitigation projects, like buyouts, to reduce risks. New York’s example is noteworthy for selecting buyouts as part of a comprehensive flood-risk mitigation analysis as a result of Flood and Ice Jam Mitigation Studies, compared to other buyout programs that utilize standalone eligibility criteria based on existing floodplain maps (e.g., a property is eligible for buyouts based on flood zones). Where buyouts are identified as a priority option to mitigate future flood risk, DEC can work with local governments through a unique partnership to remove structures from vulnerable areas and restore floodplains. Specifically, the state can oversee and provide support for locally led and administered buyout programs that can be applied across the state’s watersheds. This data-driven, state-local approach to buyouts can serve as a model for other jurisdictions considering buyouts and floodplain restoration as managed retreat strategies at the community level that would benefit from statewide consistency, assistance, and resources.

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Woodbridge Township, New Jersey: Post-Hurricane Sandy Buyouts

July 15, 2020

Woodbridge Township, New Jersey is working with the New Jersey Blue Acres Program to implement a neighborhood-wide buyout that can serve as an example for other jurisdictions considering larger-scale retreat from coastal areas. Following significant damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Woodbridge applied to participate in the New Jersey Blue Acres Buyout Program. With the support of the state, local elected officials in Woodbridge, including the mayor, committed to a community-based approach and prioritized flood mitigation and future safety and emergency management benefits over potential tax base losses if residents relocated outside of the township. As a result of this approach and an extensive community engagement process, nearly 200 property owners accepted a buyout offer. Once structures are demolished, the township is restoring bought-out land to create a natural flood buffer. The township established an Open Space Conservation/Resiliency Zone to institutionalize protections for this area by prohibiting new development and discouraging redevelopment. Woodbridge’s example demonstrates how comprehensive, community-based approaches to buyouts can maximize long-term benefits for communities and the environment. Other local governments can consider partnering with their states and residents, among others, to use buyouts as a retreat strategy to make communities more resilient. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

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Seattle Public Utilities - Utility Discount Program

2020

In recent years, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), which is the city’s water utility and provides drinking water and wastewater treatment, has strongly emphasized community engagement and equity issues through the creation of a variety of organizations and programs. One organization, Connect Capital, which is comprised of SPU staff and members of a community foundation and a community organization, advises SPU on how to ensure that the benefits of future  investments are equitable and address climate threats to those at risk of displacement. One result of Connect Capital’s encouragement is SPU’s investment in infrastructure in frontline communities, such as the South Park Neighborhood. Another equitable initiative under SPU is the Utility Discount Program, under which seniors, persons with disabilities, and low-income customers receive a reduction in their water and electricity bills. Households with incomes at or below 70% of state median income pay only 50% of their SPU bill. Further still, SPU’s Environmental Justice and Service Equity Division aims to promote inclusive community engagement and collaboration.

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Equitable Adaptation Legal and Policy Toolkit - Georgetown Climate Center

July 29, 2020

The impacts of climate change disproportionately affect overburdened and low-income individuals and communities of color that already face significant economic and social challenges. The cumulative impacts of pollution, racism, and political and economic disenfranchisement make it difficult for these communities to withstand and recover from extreme heat, flooding, and other climate impacts. To help communities address the challenges of climate resilience and social inequality, the Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) partnered with leading experts and practitioners to develop the Equitable Adaptation Legal & Policy Toolkit, a comprehensive online resource to help state and local governments work with communities on climate adaptation solutions that put frontline communities first.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Georgetown Climate Center, Tiffany Ganthier, Lisa Hamilton, Annie Bennett, Katherine McCormick, Anne Perrault, Sara Hoverter, Sara Hoverter, Jennifer Li, Joel B. Smith, Joel B. Smith

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Case Study: Homestead Community Land Trust - King County, Washington

July 26, 2020

In Seattle and King County, Washington, the Homestead Community Land Trust (Homestead CLT) is helping to preserve existing and build new affordable housing that incorporates green design features. The CLT currently stewards 13 acres of land with more than 200 homes for low- and middle-income homeowners earning 80 percent or less of area median income (AMI). Recent projects have incorporated green design features to increase the sustainability of land trust homes. The CLT is currently building twelve “net-zero” energy townhomes in area Renton, WA near transit, which will reduce both energy and transit costs for homeowners and help the region meet greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

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Case Study: Irvine Community Land Trust - Irvine, California

July 26, 2020

The Irvine Community Land Trust (Irvine CLT) presents an example of a city-established CLT designed to support infill development of sustainable, permanently affordable housing. The CLT’s developments meet the City’s green housing standards by incorporating green design features (like energy and water saving utilities, low-energy lighting, renewable energy power). Housing developments also incorporate other community amenities like parks, community space, and community gardens. Additionally, Irvine CLT is building housing to provide services to residents with special needs; for example, its Doria housing project reserved 10 percent of homes for people with a history of homelessness, including veterans and people with mental illnesses.

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

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Case Study: Oakland Community Land Trust - Oakland, California

July 26, 2020

The Oakland Community Land Trust (OakCLT), in Oakland, California, presents an example of how land trusts can help to reduce displacement pressures in gentrifying cities. It was created in 2009 to stabilize housing threatened with foreclosure as a result of the recession and mortgage crisis. Through mobilization of residents and a local community organization, Urban Strategies Council, the Oakland CLT was formed to acquire and rehabilitate properties in foreclosure. Since it was established, OakCLT has acquired and preserved approximately 50 units of housing and stewards multi-use and commercial properties that provide affordable rents for culturally important businesses and grassroots organizations.

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

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