Imagining Oberlin: The Oberlin Community Land Trust

For more than a year, a dozen or so Oberlin community and business leaders, including Kendal at Oberlin, have been working on a plan to promote affordable housing as a vehicle to improve the city’s economic viability and quality of life.

Imagining Oberlin event: March 4, 2019The result is the Oberlin Community Land Trust, Building Neighborhoods One House at a Time, that will be unveiled at a kick-off event entitled “Imagining Oberlin.” The event, open to all, is Monday, March 4, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 5 S. Main Street, on the lower level.

“We are inviting the community to consider our values and aspirations, our needs and wants, and to open the conversation as a beginning to accomplishing those things” said Krista Long, president of the Oberlin Community Land Trust board.  “We need affordable housing for families.  And we need affordable housing for seniors.”

Affordable Senior Housing is Part of the Plan

One of Kendal’s strategic plan objectives includes the study of more affordable options to provide senior housing. “A few of us representing Kendal staff and board have been happily at the table for more than a year now to learn about land trusts from those more experienced. We are excited to join with area businesses and organizations, recognizing this may be an appropriate solution for Oberlin’s housing needs,” Kendal’s CEO Barbara Thomas said.

Community Land Trusts (CLT) have been employed throughout history and the model has been developed, changed, and improved by various participants and activities, including peace, civil rights and agricultural cooperative movements.

There are over 260 CLT’s in the United States.  The first rural CLT was developed in Georgia in 1969 by the southern civil rights movement to help African American farmers gain security.  The first urban CLT was developed in Cincinnati in 1981 to address issues related to gentrification and displacement.


Early on the Oberlin working group received a grant from the Community Foundation of Lorain County to hire Marge Misak to facilitate a year-long exploration of the CLT model.  Marge was the Land Trust Program Director of Neighborhood Housing Solutions of Greater Cleveland and is currently employed independently as a Land Trust Development Consultant.

“I was so excited to be a part of this process with the Oberlin Community Land Trust,” Marge said.  “There is a strong correlation between housing and the health of a community.  And community land trusts are an excellent tool to help communities keep housing costs affordable.  The Oberlin group has done a great job bringing a wide range of residents and community organizations to this discussion.  I’m looking forward to their progress as they put all their hard work and planning into action.”

Students from KSU School of Architecture to Offer Ideas

At the March kickoff event, attendees will be able to view several community visualization ideas designed by Kent State University School of Architecture students, such as residential housing and senior housing at the Oberlin School Building, 218 N. Pleasant Street (formerly The Boys & Girls Club site).  Also, participants will be able to sample creative food offerings from several area restaurants.


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