What is a Community Land Trust?
A community land trust (CLT) is an independent nonprofit organization created to oversee affordable housing and preserve it for future generations.
Under the CLT Homeownership model, the CLT owns the underlying land and sells the houses to individual homeowners at affordable prices. A CLT also leases land to affordable rental housing developers and restricts the rents they charge through a ground lease. Currently the ICLT is leasing many units for affordable rental housing and is working with its current partners to develop many rental units.
For ownership housing, the CLT enters into a 99-year, renewable ground lease with each homeowner which gives the homeowner exclusive use of the land and nearly all of the benefits of traditional homeownership. On a daily basis, CLT homeownership is no different than traditional homeownership, except that that the monthly housing costs will be significantly lower than if a market-rate home had been purchased. In exchange for the benefit of a below-market rate purchase price, CLT homeowners acknowledge that their housing investment will appreciate at a different rate than their market rate neighbors. The future sales price of the home is restricted by the resale formula that is described in the ground lease. This system allows future households of modest means to be able to achieve the dream of homeownership without the need for ongoing investment of new public funding.
The CLT model of homeownership is growing rapidly. Today in the United States there are over 5,000 CLT homes under stewardship by nearly 200 different land trusts. More and more communities are attracted to CLTs, as a means of providing permanently affordable homeownership. The CLT model balances the interests of individual homeowners in housing stability and equity generation with the public interest in preserving public resources. Similarly, CLT’s addresses the needs of renters by ensuring permanent affordability of rental housing units.
History of the CLT Movement
Community land trusts have grown in popularity over the last few decades as communities embrace this effective model for creating permanently affordable housing. The first CLT in the United States, New Communities, Inc., was started in rural Georgia in 1968, and today there are nearly 200 active land trust organizations throughout the country. In California alone there are over ten active community land trusts which provide a range of housing types at affordable prices. In addition, the University of California uses the land lease model to provide affordable housing opportunities to faculty and staff at multiple campus locations; this practice was first started on the Irvine campus in the mid-1980’s.