The modern-day Community Land Trust, as both a model and a movement, is relatively new, with the first CLTs only appearing in the United States in the 1970s. The roots of the CLT are much older. From an ethic of land stewardship found in Biblical scriptures, Native American traditions, and the New England custom of the village commons, the CLT draws its inspiration for removing land from the speculative market and managing it for the common good. From the social theories of Henry George and the social experiments of the Garden Cities Movement in England and the Jewish National Fund in Israel, the CLT derives its mechanisms for leasing land and capturing socially-created real estate gains for the benefit of a larger community.
From Mahatma Gandhi and the Gramdan Movement in India, the CLT draws its concept of trusteeship, preserving access to land and housing for populations historically excluded from the economic and political mainstream. From the Civil Rights Movement in the American South, the CLT draws its commitment to open membership, inclusive governance, and direct accountability to the community it serves. This is a heritage shared by all CLTs, no matter how much their particular organizational and operational features may differ from one another.
Roots of the CLT Movement, This is an essay on the history behind the CLT movement, written in 2001 by Vicki Lindsay, founding director of the community land trust in Gloucester, MA, and member of the CLT Academy board.