Community Land Trusts

Jill Shook introduces this chapter by describing this model, its origins and benefits. In a nutshell, the land is kept off the speculative markets by being placed in a trust; homeowners purchase the home and not the land thus making their home affordable. This concept of was imported from India, Israel, borne out of the civil rights movement. This model of permanently affordability and shared equity homeownership has evolved carrying with it a list of guiding principles and governance that ensure its success. Community Land Trusts are little known, yet a viable, underutilized model. Yet, over 255 communities across the country are beginning to use CLTs to preserve their affordable housing stock, to fight gentrification and along with it, a host of other benefits to the community.  

There are many examples of well functioning CLT’s across the US, but one that most impressed me is in Minneapolis, the City of Lakes Community Land Trust. In their model, they have been able to allow those facing foreclosure to place their home in the Trust, separate the land from the home ownership, thus making it affordable for families to stay in their homes.

The chapter focuses on the story of one Community Land Trust community, H.O.M.E. (Homeworkers Organized for More Employment) which was developed by a Catholic community. They have extensively used the community land trusts model to create home ownership for very low income families.  They have seen families move from living in tents and their cars to purchasing their homes. They are able to do this by controlling much of the homebuilding process by having their own forest and sawmill, which they use to make their own cabinetry and shingle siding---thus lowering the cost of materials. Many of the purchasers of their land trust homes participate in these processes, thus making the homes even more affordable.

Some developers are looking at assets in fresh concepts of land use and ownership to develop communities, for example, they are utilizing ground leases (similar to the land trust model) which allows an institution’s land (i.e. universities, hospitals, school districts and churches) to build and sell homes on their land. The homes are sold, but the land remains owned by the institution. With the cost of the land taken out of the equation, the homes become affordable. Owner representative developers have been successfully using this model for more than 30 years, with one of the first projects at UCI: This model can provide much needed revenue for institutions while a the same time, serves to lower traffic and retain of their best and brightest employees by giving them the opportunity to own a home they can afford close by.  


National Coalition of Community Land Trusts:

Rick Jacobus is a excellent consultant on CLT, subsidy retention and more:

City of Lakes Community Land Trust:

San Francisco Community Land Trust combined with cooperatives:

The Irvine Community Land Trust:

Community Land Trust of Palm Beach, Florida:

And 1000 Friends of Florida: