1. What is a community land trust?
A community land trust (CLT) is a private non-profit community organization that safeguards land in order to provide affordable housing opportunities. CLTs buy and hold land permanently, preventing market factors from causing prices to rise. CLTs build and sell affordably-priced homes to families with limited incomes— the CLT keeps the price of homes affordable by separating the price of the house from the cost of the land. When a family decides to sell a CLT home, the home is resold at an affordable price to another homebuyer with a limited income. The goal of CLTs is to balance the needs of homeowners to build equity and gain stability in their lives with the needs of the community to preserve affordable home ownership opportunities for future generations.
CLTs across the country share certain basic characteristics. Here are five:
- Dual Ownership: Ownership of land is separated from ownership of homes located on the land. A long-term land lease defines the arrangement between a CLT and leaseholders who own their homes and other improvements. The land trust offers leaseholders security, privacy, stability, and a legacy for their heirs.
- Permanent Affordability of Housing: CLTs protect affordability for future residents by ensuring the affordable resale of homes and other improvements on their land. Shared-appreciation provisions in the ground lease agreement offer homeowners a fair return on their investment while protecting the community's investment of public and private resources (funds as well as skills) that go into creating a CLT and making housing affordable.
- Commitment to Local Control: CLTs provide greater local control over land and housing ownership, giving community members a greater say in land-use decision-making. Community land trusts are community based and democratically controlled, so the community residents -- the members -- decide how the land trust is run.
- Flexibility: The CLT model is flexible. In addition to affordable housing, community land trusts may make land available for community gardens, playgrounds, parks, local businesses and other community services.
- An Active Land Acquisition and Development Program: CLTs are committed to an ongoing acquisition and development program that seeks to meet diverse community needs, continuing to grow the stock of homes and land whose affordability is permanently protected.
2. How do CLTs help residents and communities?
CLTs provide access to land and homeownership for people who cannot afford what’s for sale on the housing market. CLT homeownership provides greater housing security than renting.
Benefits to a Land Trust Homeowner
- Homeownership at an affordable price
- Stable monthly payments
- Security from eviction
- Tax advantages
- Opportunity to build equity
- Opportunity to take a leadership role in the organization by serving on the board of directors or board committees
Benefits to the Community
- Home-buying opportunities for neighborhood residents
- Preservation of affordable homes into the future despite rapidly escalating housing prices
- Opportunity for renters to become owners
- Wise use of tax dollars (public subsidy)
- In addition, many CLTs help buyers gain access to down-payment assistance and special financing
Land trust homebuyers generally must be able to handle monthly mortgage payments and other costs, including home repairs as needed and reasonable lease fees for use of the land.
(Thanks to Proud Ground (former the Portland Community Land Trust) for sharing their FAQ.)