The model

Illustration : Monica Gallab

Community Land Trusts are community-led non-profits designed to develop and steward individually owned homes and community assets such as shops and civic spaces on community owned land. CLTs balance the needs of individuals to access land and maintain security of tenure with a community’s need to maintain affordability, economic diversity and local access to essential services.

An essential purpose of a CLT is to provide access to land, housing, and economic opportunities for low and moderate-income people who otherwise have no access to these resources. Long-term ground leases are used to separate land ownership from homeownership. Homes are made affordable by taking land costs out of the price. Resale restrictions are used to keep housing affordable. When CLT homeowners decide to move out of their homes, they can sell them. However, the land lease requires that the home be sold either back to the CLT or to another lower income household, and for an affordable price. When a CLT homeowner does sell, he only earns a portion of the increased value. The rest is kept by the Trust, preserving the affordability for future low-income families.

CLTs have an open democratic structure: People who live and work in the defined local community, including occupiers of the homes on CLT land, can become members of the CLT. The CLT engages members of the community in its work. CLTs are representatively governed: ⅓ of the board represents homeowners, ⅓ the surrounding community and ⅓ is made up of public officials.

A CLT does not disappear when a home is sold or rented but has a long-term role in stewarding the homes. In some cases they will remain the landlord of the rental homes or will retain an element of unsold equity in the homes. At the least, the CLT will retain the freehold.

CLTs range in size, can be rural or urban, and provide a variety of housing tenures as well as other community facilities, including workspaces, energy generation, community food and farming.