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  • Overview
  • Increasing Housing Supply
  • Dedicated Funding Sources
  • Land Use Regulation and Approval Reforms
  • Inclusionary Zoning
  • Regional Housing Target Enforcement
  • Ending and Preventing Homelessness
  • Systems-Level Racial Equity Analysis
  • Emergency Response Resources
  • Housing First
  • Master Leasing
  • Household and Community Protections
  • “Just Cause” Eviction Laws
  • Anti-Gouging Rent Regulations
  • Strategic Code Enforcement
  • Community Benefit Agreements
  • Community Power-Building
  • Community Ownership
  • Alliance and Coalition Building
  • Community Organizing
  • Tenant Organizing
  • Opportunity and Wealth
  • Mobility Assistance Programs
  • Rent Reporting
  • Reparations
  • Fair and Equitable Appraisals
  • Acknowledgments
  • Community Benefit Agreements


    Historically, low-income communities of color have long had their needs neglected and their voices excluded in efforts of development and revitalization. As a result, entire communities have been razed or displaced over time as the needs and interests of new businesses and residents have been prioritized over existing residents, people of color, and those experiencing poverty. 

    Community benefits agreements (CBAs) can be powerful tools for communities to promote equitable development practices that advance housing justice. CBAs are legally binding contracts between coalitions of community-based organizations and developers that shape how local development projects contribute to improving the quality of life of nearby residents. When implemented effectively, CBA processes shift power more evenly to ensure the residents most impacted by development projects have a say in the priorities for the new investments. 

    Such agreements can be particularly useful to ensure that large developments seeking public investment align with the needs of local communities. CBAs can be comprehensive, with commitments for hiring local residents for the project, setting wage levels, requiring certain uses of land and building space, or making contributions to certain funds for community services and programs. For housing justice, CBAs can be a tool to guard against displacement through centering community voices and interests in the planning and development of housing and committing direct investments to improve housing quality and to increase housing affordability in a neighborhood. 

    The design and implementation processes of CBAs have an immense impact on their effectiveness. There has been criticism of CBAs due to past CBA processes ending with unfulfilled promises to communities and lacking mechanisms for accountability. But coalitions can use best practices to integrate a number of critical elements for more effective CBAs. These include building a coalition that has deep relationships in the community and reflects the community’s diversity, having capacity to handle the needs of an entire negotiation process, ensuring a transparent process for all parties involved, creating specific terms of the CBA, identifying the responsibilities of all stakeholders, and establishing a detailed plan and system for monitoring implementation. 

    Examples of This Strategy in Action

    • In 2018, Stand Up Nashville, a community-based organization seeking to make Nashville a model of justice and equality, secured a community benefits agreement with Nashville Soccer Holdings for a stadium for the professional soccer team and a mixed-use development project. Along with commitments related to jobs, wages, and community services, the CBA included an affordable housing commitment. Once they are constructed, 20 percent of developed units will be rented at affordable rates, and at least 20 percent of the affordable units will have three bedrooms to accommodate the needs of families. 
    • In 2006, Front Range Economic Strategy Center and the coalition members of the Campaign for Responsible Development secured a community benefit agreement for the Gates Cherokee Redevelopment Project, a $1 billion, mixed-use, transit-oriented development. The CBA includes an Affordable Housing Plan to support the housing needs of residents with low incomes. The commitments include construction of 150 affordable, for-sale units out of 1,500 total for-sale units and 200 low-income rental units out of 1,000 total rental units. Further, the CBA has a commitment to follow federal and local handicapped accessibility standards.
    • In 2005, Georgia Stand-Up, a grassroots community organization, secured community benefits commitments as part of the Atlanta BeltLine project. The 25-year, $2.8 billion project involves the transit-oriented development of a 22-mile light rail transit loop. Instead of an agreement directly between the community group and a developer, a city resolution was passed outlining commitments for investments to address the needs of residents most affected by the development. The legislation created the BeltLine Tax Allocation District, a financing tool to use revenue from increases in property taxes to reinvest in additional projects to meet certain needs over time.



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