The Good Lands Trust: Home is Where My Heart Is

Community-based property ownership paired with proven supportive programming makes home ownership accessible to more North Philadelphia families and ensures long-term affordability while revitalizing the “Good Lands.”

Philadelphia’s neighborhoods of Fairhill & St Hugh have gotten more than their share of negative attention, largely related to our region’s opioid crisis. Some may call this the “badlands” but for HACE and our neighbors, this is where our memories live — the Good Lands — the heart of Latino arts and culture in the Philadelphia region.

Community-based land ownership models provide creative solutions to stabilize an area while preserving affordability. HACE is acquiring vacant land and blighted structures throughout the neighborhood to create the “Good Lands Trust” and build homes targeted to low-income neighbors looking to put down permanent roots. We are ramping up our proven housing counseling and homeownership strategies, with an intensive financial education and credit-building program for low-income neighbors. We are driving neighborhood stabilization, building community wealth, and empowering residents.

Help HACE create equitable, accessible and affordable homeownership opportunities — today and in the future.

What is the community need that this idea addresses?

44% of households in Fairhill & St Hugh are homeowners. We know from neighborhood surveying that many renters want to put down permanent roots to remain close to family, friends, and the area’s Latino arts and culture – but many cited a lack of credit or financial resources as barriers. Families in this neighborhood experience high rates of poverty and spend a disproportionately high percentage of income on housing. HACE has developed hundreds of units of affordable rental housing, but to make a lasting change we know we need creative strategies to address homeownership and community wealth building.

This led us to ask: “How might we build community wealth, decrease blight, and stabilize the local market — while also preventing displacement, ensuring long-term affordability, and putting residents in the driver’s seat?”

We believe that answering this question will set an important precedent in Philadelphia that can be replicated in similar neighborhoods.

What is the solution that is currently in place?

HACE offers a comprehensive and robust menu of housing counseling and homeownership programs for neighbors, including foreclosure prevention, energy assistance, budgeting, one-on-one counseling, down-payment assistance, home repairs, weatherization, and more. Since 1992, certified counselors have provided services in both English and Spanish to over 18,000 households. HACE has expanded this work over the past two years, piloting its “Credit Academy” – an intensive credit improvement and financial skill-building program to prepare more residents to become homeowners.

HACE has also demonstrated expertise in developing affordable housing with both rental and homeownership projects, including the Lawrence Court homeownership project that included 50 new homes with design aesthetics reflecting the Latino heritage of the community. The project included subsidized pricing for low-income buyers, as well as down-payment assistance.

How will a Key to Community Grant help?

We know the market can shift quickly. HACE is acting to decisively and proactively increase our homeownership strategies and position residents to benefit — and to create and preserve affordability. Property ownership and community wealth building go hand in hand.

A Key to Community Grant will help HACE ramp up our homeownership activities and establish the “Good Lands Trust” – a Community Land Trust (CLT) that retains land ownership while selling the home to low-income buyers at an affordable price. Families build equity with some restrictions at re-sale to preserve long-term affordability.

With over 250 active CLTs nationwide, 82% of homebuyers in this model have incomes below 50% of the area average, and homes are ten times less likely to be foreclosed. With 23 properties currently in the pipeline, and plans for 30-50 more in the next three years, HACE is poised to model the value of this approach in the Good Lands.

Idea Submitted by:


HACE works in North Philadelphia’s Fairhill & St Hugh neighborhoods to grow jobs, create safe affordable housing, strengthen the local economy, and provide services and support for our neighbors when they need it. We focus on the possible, collaborating with residents, local businesses, and mission-aligned partners to build a positive and equitable future in an area others call the “badlands” and we call home – the “Good Lands” – the heart of Latino arts and culture in the Philadelphia region.

Over the past three decades, HACE has leveraged over $100 million to build housing, develop new commercial spaces, and lead cleaning, safety, and beautification initiatives in the neighborhood. We are leading the implementation of our Good Lands 2025 Neighborhood Plan, which was developed by residents and includes goals related to safety and health, affordable housing, business and commercial corridor improvement, and services for seniors and families.