Announcing New Community Ownership for Community Power Fund

The partnership is our newest effort to support the robust ecosystem of community ownership groups in California and putting them at the center of decision-making for land ownership and stewardship.

Today the Community Ownership for Community Power (COCP) Fund launched its $22 million philanthropic initiative to propel the growing community ownership movement across California. Community ownership is recognized as one of the key strategies to permanently address the crisis of housing affordability in the state yet has been underfunded by philanthropy. This four-year initiative aims to address that shortcoming and provide a vehicle for funders to support California’s growing ecosystem of community ownership organizations. The COCP Fund will also spearhead the creation of an integrated capital acquisition fund of at least $100 million, California’s first to be governed directly by communities, and will further leverage public and private funds for the field.

Community ownership refers to community-led initiatives such as community land trusts, housing cooperatives, and other shared equity models that are developed by and for the benefit of residents, not speculative developers or other public and private institutions who often fail to engage community leadership. The launch of the COCP Fund is an important step toward building a robust ecosystem of community ownership groups and demonstrating the potential of community ownership to address rampant displacement of historically low-income communities and Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and communities of color and the catalytic role philanthropy can play in this work.

Managed by Common Counsel Foundation (CCF), the COCP Fund has already received over $10 million in commitments from The California Endowment, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The James Irvine Foundation, Great Communities Collaborative at the San Francisco Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation. The team is currently meeting with regional and national funders to raise the final $12 million in philanthropic capital.

This initiative brings community groups and funders together to make community ownership practically and financially accessible to neighborhoods that have been historically marginalized.

“We are proud to partner with organizations to design a fund that builds on the legacy of land stewardship within social justice movements,” shared Emily Duma, Program Strategist at CCF.” Supporting community ownership is a critical component addressing the systemic forces that have created the housing crisis in California, with racial justice and community power at the center.”

The COCP Fund’s initial cohort currently consists of 14 organizations:

Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust
Casa Familiar Inc.
Dishgamu Humboldt Community Land Trust
El Sereno Community Land Trust
Fideicomiso Comunitario Tierra Libre
Liberty Community Land Trust
Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation

Sacramento Community Land Trust
San Francisco Community Land Trust
South Bay Community Land Trust
THRIVE Santa Ana
Tenemos que Reclamar y Unidos Salvar la Tierra-South LA (T.R.U.S.T. South LA).

With its launch, the COCP Fund has already deployed $2.2 million in grants to members of the first cohort with plans to deploy additional capacity-building grants through its first year.

“Community ownership organizations need support with sustained investments from philanthropy,” said Saki Bailey, Executive Director of San Francisco Community Land Trust. “When philanthropy partners with community groups to lead the way and move resources at a larger scale, it moves the priorities in the right direction and allows us to do so much more. We hope to see the COCP Fund become the first of many funds that foundationally support this work with long-term capital resources and communities at the helm.”

The COCP Fund will position community ownership as a more widely accessible strategy in California through these core areas of work:

  • Grantmaking to community ownership organizations to build their internal capacity to undertake and manage larger scale projects.
  • Ecosystem support for community ownership groups through research, policy monitoring and assessment, targeted capacity building, network coordination, and strategic communications.
  • A co-design process led by grantees to launch a new, unique community-governed integrated capital acquisition fund for real estate, with an ambitious long-term goal of up to $300 million as well as targeted engagement opportunities for funders to learn, innovate, and share around new practices.

“Now is a critical time for philanthropy to support community ownership as a strategy to address historic and ongoing structural racism in the housing market,” said Rajib Guha, Director of Program Development at The James Irvine Foundation. “By coming together to provide catalytic funding for organizations across the state, we can help bolster existing efforts and unlock substantial new investment from the public and private sectors.”

Banner photo credit: South Bay Community Land Trust, Fideicomiso Comunitario Tierra Libre (FCTL)