Community-driven, social ownership of land for a more equitable city

Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA), Creation of a Municipal Land Bank

Re: Intros. 1977-2020, 0118-2018

Good morning, I am Paula Crespo, Senior Planner at the Pratt Center for Community Development, and I am happy for the opportunity to say a few words in support of these important pieces of legislation.

Community-driven, social ownership of land is essential for creating a more equitable City. To  do so, we need public policies in place to create a more level playing field between mission-driven organizations and private, for-profit real estate developers. Late last year, the Pratt Center for Community Development released “Our Hidden Treasure,” a report which examined how zoning changes increase the value of privately owned land and how some of this increase in value could be recovered for public policy objectives. One of the report’s primary strategy recommendations was the creation of certain funding mechanisms that would support the social ownership of land.

Pratt Center supports establishing a municipal land bank to facilitate the transfer of distressed properties to them and other strategies to support social ownership. These are not brand-new ideas, but their time has undoubtedly come as the effects of the pandemic remind us of the need to seize the opportunity that a crisis can create. COVID has exacerbated our City’s socioeconomic inequities, and the current economic downturn is likely to lead to an increase of distressed properties. The depressed land values are likely to set off a wave of speculative real estate practices. The proposed legislation would create strong mechanisms to reduce speculation and increase the viability of affordable housing whose longevity is not tied to the dynamics of the private, profit-driven real estate market. 

Thank you to Councilmembers Rivera and Lander for introducing this legislation that will play a key role in ensuring that there are meaningful opportunities to expand the city’s stock of community-controlled, permanently affordable land. We look forward to working with you, the full Council, and the Administration to advance the goals set out in this legislation

See: Pratt Center’s “Our Hidden Treasure: Recovering Land Value to Repair and Rebuild


19 Jan, 2021–19 Jan, 2020

Contact Info

Adam Friedman Executive Director 718 637 8640

Additional Details

The New York City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings
Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair
(Remote Hearing)