EllieAna Hale
Community Engagement Intern & Reporter

The Jerusalem Farm Community Land Trust project has embarked on a mission to acquire, rehabilitate, and sell abandoned homes and vacant lots, with a goal to counter the rapid increase in housing prices and create quality affordable housing in the Northeast neighborhood. 

Located in Historic Northeast’s Pendleton Heights neighborhood, the organization is a non-profit Catholic Intentional community that spearheads a variety of community improvement projects.

The initiative emerged from the 2022 Community Research Project, which identified a pressing need and desire for quality affordable housing in the Northeast. Through listening sessions, the community voiced its desire for homeownership opportunities and access to affordable housing options.

A land trust is a legal arrangement in which land is owned, managed, and held for specific purposes by one party, in this case Jerusalem Farm, for the benefit of the broader community.

“Land trusts can be a tool to use to create a stable market of affordable housing in an area,” stated Jordan Schiele, Founder and Project Director at Jerusalem Farm.

Jerusalem Farm has bought a combination of vacant lots, abandoned houses and houses needing slightly less rehabilitation. 

The process that involves the vacant lots varies slightly differently than the acquisition of the physical houses. 

Throughout the previous months the vacant lots have gone under a process of cleaning, involving the removal of brush, tires and trash. Jerusalem Farm has also worked with local agencies to address the issue of homeless camps that were residing on a few of the lots. Jerusalem Farm’s commitment to community accountability includes ongoing efforts to maintain the lots and ensure they contribute to the overall betterment of the neighborhood.

This home at 406 Garfield has been completely renovated and remodeled by Jerusalem Farm and now serves as affordable housing for one local family

Jerusalem Farm is now undergoing the environmental assessment process and will do so for the next year and a half. The assessment will determine next steps for remediation and development for future affordable housing on these properties. 

Jerusalem Farm has additionally been working to acquire 11 abandoned houses located in the Lykins, Pendleton Heights, Indian Mound and Scarritt Renaissance neighborhoods which are now in various stages of disrepair. Six homes are already in the rehabilitation process, with one already having been sold in July 2023. Five homes are in the process of going through the Abandoned House Act acquisition process before rehabilitation can occur. 

These homes, once acquired by Jerusalem Farm, will undergo extensive rehabilitation, carried out by dedicated volunteers working to create healthy and sustainable living spaces. Each property is then sold to an income-qualified family that has completed credit-building and homeownership courses, ensuring they are equipped for long-term success.

“Our goal is to preserve the Northeast as an accessible neighborhood,”  Schiele said. “We want to make sure that there’s enough affordable housing for long term residents that are in the neighborhood that have lived here, can continue to remain here and then also stay with their family members. As the kids get older, we’ll be able to continue to buy houses in this area, to
maintain their bond of community, connection and family.”

The next house completed is slated for sale by the end of March, marking a significant step forward in the restoration of affordable housing options in the area.