Advancing Affordability in Real Estate & Housing

How technology is enabling new models for real estate ownership to make cities more affordable.

By Ginkgo

Real estate affordability varies significantly across US cities, with many areas becoming increasingly unaffordable for a large portion of the population. While a significant shift in property values and rental rates seems unlikely, there are promising alternatives for affordable living in desirable cities.

“The Neighborhood Trust vests ownership and control with the neighborhood, rather than with outsiders, and protects and maintains long-term affordability.” - Joseph Margulies

Community ownership models, such as Community Land Trusts, Cooperatives, and Neighborhood Trusts, are gaining traction. An excellent example is Philadelphia’s Kensington Corridor Trust (KCT), a Neighborhood Trust that utilizes a Perpetual Purpose Trust to manage real estate for the benefit of current residents. As Joseph Margulies of the Stanford Social Innovation Review notes, “The Neighborhood Trust vests ownership and control with the neighborhood, rather than with outsiders, and protects and maintains long-term affordability.”

In this post, we focus on KCT, but similar models are being implemented nationwide through Mixed-Income Neighborhood Trusts supported by Trust Neighborhoods. Cities like Fresno, Tulsa, Kansas City, and Boston are adopting Neighborhood Trusts.

These organizations are leveraging technology in order to reduce costs for residents and local business owners even further. For instance, KCT integrates technology into its operations to streamline and automate processes. KCT uses Ginkgo's GIS-based CRM platform to manage its property portfolio and maintain relationships with local stakeholders.

Here are additional ways technology is helping organizations like KCT provide more affordable real estate:

1. Data Analytics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS):

  • Market Analysis: Data analytics allows CLTs to understand housing market trends, demographic changes, and the specific needs of communities. This information guides decision-making and strategic planning. Ginkgo is built on GIS technology in order to enable the types of geospatial data analysis that CLTs and other small nonprofits need to perform without having specialized GIS staff in house.

2. Management and Operational Software:

  • Property Management Systems: These systems help CLTs manage their properties efficiently, tracking maintenance, occupancy, and financials. This ensures properties are well-maintained and financial resources are used effectively.
Interactive Ginkgo map of the properties currently owned and stewarded by the Kensington Corridor Trust.
  • Client Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: CRMs, like Ginkgo, help CLTs manage interactions with current and prospective homeowners, track application processes, and provide personalized support.

3. Sustainable and Innovative Building Technologies:

  • Modular and Prefabricated Construction: These methods can reduce construction costs and time, making it quicker and cheaper to develop new housing units.

Additional examples of Successful Implementation:

  • Oakland Community Land Trust (OakCLT): Utilizes GIS similar to Ginkgo for site selection and planning, and engages the community through comprehensive online resources and social media.
  • Champlain Housing Trust (CHT): Employs property management software to efficiently manage a large portfolio of affordable housing units, ensuring sustainability and affordability.
  • London CLT: Leverages crowdfunding platforms to finance new housing developments, actively engaging with the community to raise funds and awareness.

By integrating these technologies, CLTs can enhance their efficiency, broaden their reach, and provide more affordable and sustainable housing solutions to the communities they serve.

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