Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
February 27, 2009

Sen. West files bill to help stabilize urban neighborhoods

AUSTIN — Today, State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) filed legislation to allow Texas cities, counties, and non-profits to establish Community Land Trusts (CLTs). SB1205 will provide cities, counties, and non-profit organizations with a mechanism to designate land for permanent affordable single-family housing, The CLT designation can apply to new development or the redevelopment of vacant or blighted land within existing neighborhoods. Once the land is placed in a trust, homes built there by non-profit organizations can be sold to low- to moderate income families.

"SB1205 balances existing neighborhood preservation with the task of promoting responsible revitalization," said Sen. West. "It ensures and protects the American Dream for all Texans by creating opportunities for homeownership while stabilizing property values in areas of rapid growth. The bill also helps communities to have a voice in planning new development."

The CLT model has been successfully used in 41 other states, but to date, has never been used in Texas due to state tax policy. By ensuring that land valuation within the trust is consistent with other land used for affordable housing, SB1205 creates incentives for cities and counties to partner with local communities groups to ensure that residents living in rapidly developing areas do not experience the economic displacement that often results from rapidly escalating property values.

"Gentrification has taken place in South Dallas and other urban neighborhoods for far too long," said Diane Ragsdale – InnerCity Community Development Corporation (ICDC). "SB1205 is a step in the right direction in providing much needed relief to families being driven from their homes. Passage of this bill will give us the tools we need to anchor communities and empower them help preserve neighborhoods."

As a pioneer in the use of the urban land banks in Dallas and across Texas, Sen. West has long worked to ensure that Texas families have a safe place to call home. SB1205 is another tool to assist communities in providing for responsible growth and development, while protecting existing residents and communities.

For more information, please contact Julie Frank at 512-463-2527 or Kelvin Bass at 512-463-0123.