to address the environmental degradation, wetlands filling, land speculation, and gentrification of North Gulfport and Turkey Creek.
The North Gulfport Community Land Trust was formed in 2004 in an effort to address the environmental degradation, wetlands filling, land speculation and potential gentrification of the North Gulfport community. This African American neighborhood, once a vibrant place where children were safe to walk at night and homeowners were proud of their simple, clean homes had fallen into disrepair, and had been regularly flooded due to the filling of nearby wetlands.
The NGCLT strives to provide decent permanently affordable housing, address education issues, and to fight for environmental justice issues that continue to harm poor communities. Its vision is to create a support system for community members by providing necessary resources to improve their lives and surroundings. We will protect the environment that has protected us for centuries and regain the pride we once had as a community and as a people. Dr. Martin Luther King once said that life's most persistent and urgent question is what we are doing for others. It is our goal to answer that question by rendering service.
The North Gulfport Community Land Trust was founded in 2004 by Rose Johnson, an African American woman who grew up in a predominantly low-income African American community where "a village raised a child." She had grown up in a time and place where community members knew they could rely on each other to get through the hard times and folks would come together to celebrate when times were good. Over the past few decades, though, She watched her community flood more and more each year. She witnessed developers move into her community, and fill the surrounding wetlands with shopping centers and hotels upon them. Rose Johnson watched her community become increasingly under-served and marginalized. When she discovered the community land trust movement, she recognized it as a tool for furthering her efforts and she was soon recognized locally and nationally as a protector of the environment and her community.
Historically, the North Gulfport community was entirely self-reliant. Community members lived off the land by fishing in the Turkey Creek, hunting wildlife in the nearby forests, and tending to their gardens. As industry moved to the area locals took jobs at the nearby Creosote plant. Later, when men left the community to seek better opportunities, their wives worked together by taking care of each other’s children, sharing food stores and working communally on agricultural plots. As the city of Gulfport moved through the 20th century, this community remained isolated, leaving it underrepresented and underdeveloped in the outside world. Basic services like sewage and trash removal were almost non-existent and today remain absent in many parts of the community. Over the past twenty years, urban land parcels in the North Gulfport community have become vacant and overgrown while nearby development is rapidly filling the surrounding wetlands. A significant number of developable lots exist within the neighborhoods, but developers prefer to cut forests and fill wetlands rather than address any potential infill constraints like scattered-site development.
The work of the NGCLT became even more crucial to the survival of the North Gulfport community with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. After the storm, the community has faced additional challenges of homelessness and loss of basic infrastructure and necessities such as food, water and jobs.