September 23, 2013
The Land Loss Prevention Project (LLPP) is celebrating a very significant milestone this year – the 30th anniversary of its founding! LLPP was founded in 1982 by the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers to curtail the widespread loss of African American owned land in North Carolina. LLPP was incorporated in the state of North Carolina in 1983. In 1993 the organization broadened its mission to provide legal support and assistance to all financially distressed and limited resource farmers and landowners in North Carolina. LLPP’s advocacy for financially distressed and limited resource farmers involves action in three separate arenas: litigation, public policy, and promoting sustainable agriculture and environment.
In the past four fiscal years, the staff at LLPP has secured over five million dollars in debt relief, home loan modifications, and awards for its clients. In 2011-2012 alone, LLPP gained nearly one million dollars in debt relief and awards for farmer clients and preserved almost half a million dollars in tax value for farmer-owned land that LLPP protected from loss. It is of further note that these accomplishments were achieved in spite of the current economic crisis in North Carolina. This year, North Carolina’s legislature eliminated approximately half of LLPP’s operating budget. Although those cuts have proven unduly burdensome, and the work is increasingly challenging in the midst of such obstacles, the steadfast support of its partners and the communities that LLPP serves continues to make the work possible and rewarding.
LLPP has also worked with communities and partners across the state of North Carolina to fight against environmental inequities. In partnership with NCEJN and other grassroots organizations, LLPP utilizes both legal and policy-oriented strategies to advocate with limited resource farmers and communities dealing with landfill siting and hazardous waste from industrial and agricultural operations. Environmental justice matters impact issues such as access to land, full use of the land, and the ability to develop or retain land. Whether an area is urban or rural, regulatory decisions related to the permitting of facilities (whether the siting, monitoring of releases, or the enforcement of penalties against violators) impact the ownership and use of land. In this way, environmental justice serves as a fulcrum for economic development, land retention, and political participation. Environmental degradation also directly impacts an individual’s right to health and the landowners’ ability to use land without interference. Access to land that is not contaminated with toxins or in close proximity to a polluter is inextricably linked with an individual or community’s ability to sustain itself. As an economic consequence, environmental degradation devalues land, making it difficult to market, and preventing homeowners from realizing the value of their initial investment or even from moving out, as they cannot afford even replacement housing. Once contaminated, land is also more likely to be used for increased development, possibly as a site for more industrial facilities. This vicious cycle only contributes to an oppressive legacy of ill health, local public health crises, and property degradation that perpetually affects the communities that are desperately struggling to throw off the shackles of environmental racism with the assistance of organizations like NCEJN.
NCEJN is proud to offer its support to LLPP and its mission to help correct the environmental harms that have assailed so-called minority and economically challenged communities across North Carolina for the past thirty years. With your continued support for various partners and communities, LLPP continues to work to improve public health and standards of living for effected communities in North Carolina. For more information about LLPP, please visit www.landloss.org.