top of page

The Original Community Land Trust in Lee County, Georgia


Meeting of New Communities
Photo: New Communities Inc.

This original 5,735 acre farm became the largest single track of land owned by African Americas and the original community land trust.


Since the 1970s, community land trusts have tackled one of the biggest challenges in affordable housing: how do you help people build equity through ownership? A recent Seattle Times article described community land trusts as separating “the ownership of land from the structures that occupy it, locking in lasting affordability and protecting neighborhoods from displacement”.


One of the first community land trusts in America was founded out of the civil rights movement. In 1969, New Communities Inc. was formed as a farm collective in Albany, Georgia by seven individuals—Slater King, Leonard Smith, Lewis Black, Charles Sherrod, Robert (Bob) Swann, Fay Bennett and Albert Turner—after they traveled to Israel to study how the Jewish National Fund leased land for various uses.


The original 5,735 acre farm became the largest single track of land in the United States owned by African Americas. The subsequent years were consumed with master planning, community charrettes, and pursuing permanent financing. It’s estimated that over 500 families aimed to move to the community in its first phase of development.


Just as quickly as New Communities was conceived, it faced discrimination by none other than the then Governor of the State of Georgia, Lester Maddox. Public funding from the State’s Office of Economic Opportunity was key, and Maddox vetoed the initial grant funding which led to a 15-year legal battle that stunted the realization of the New Community’s vision. Ultimately, there was some justice in the federal lawsuit Pigford vs. Glickman, which focused on correcting injustices against African American farmers and led to New Communities’s settlement and acquisition of the 1,638 acre Cypress Pond Plantation.


While the original vision for New Communities was denied by systemic racism, it inspired a generation of community land trusts across the United States and the globe—a model that focuses on a nonprofit maintaining ownership of the land while buyers benefit from a much lower cost of purchase while building equity through home ownership. The community land trust model thrives in both urban, suburban and rural settings today.


Highlights

  • One of the first community land trusts in America was founded out of the civil rights movement. In 1969, New Communities Inc. was formed as a farm collective in Albany, Georgia.

  • The original 5,735 acre farm became the largest single track of land in the United States owned by African Americas.

Sources:


21 views0 comments

댓글


bottom of page