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Start-up CLT HUB

Starting a community land trust from scratch can be a daunting process. There is so much to decide on that it can be challenging to figure out how best to move forward. Use this roadmap to help your community chart a course for advancing from idea to implementation. This page is designed with six important questions along with some activities in a certain order that will help you along the way with tools and resources that will help you in creating a successful and sustainable CLT.

1. Does your community have a shared vision for the change you want to see?

A community vision is a shared image of how your community will look in the future. The often time-consuming process of crafting this image is not just about informing community residents of what is being proposed in the neighborhood; it is the process of gathering ideas, refining them and ultimately having the community decide what is best for itself. Your shared vision will provide a solid foundation for your community land trust initiative and will lay the foundation for strong support from City government, funders, and other partners because the CLT and the community will be speaking with one voice.

Coalition Start-up Tools
Start building a powerful coalition by exploring Coalitions Work’s start-up tools.
The Community Tool Box
Learn how to build consensus around a shared community vision through the Community Tool Box by the Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas. Along with visioning tools, Chapter 3 has tools that will help you assess local needs and resources.
Sources of Inspiration
Stay inspired by learning more about communities that have implemented this planning and organizing approach with some great results.


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2. Have you decided who your CLT will serve and how?

Determining who you want to serve and how is the critical next step in your CLT’s development. Your decisions will be informed by the discussions you had with the community in the first step along this roadmap and now it’s time to dive deeper into the details. It is important to know that some of the decisions you make now will change as your community and CLT evolve. The tools below will help you talk through some of the most common CLT options.

Initial Choices
Dive into the second chapter of the 2011 CLT Technical Manual looks at a set of interrelated questions that CLT organizers must address early in the organizing process. Some of the questions covered are: Who should plan and launch the CLT?, What area will the CLT serve? How will the CLT relate to other organizations? Who should control the CLT and through what corporate structure?
Community Land Trust Business Planning Worksheet
Walk through and answer critical questions that will serve as the basis of your initial business plan. This worksheet is designed as a group activity and, remember, your decisions may change over time as you gather more information and experience.
Understanding your market
Get to know your local market by using tools provided by the U.S Small Business Administration on topics such as economic indicators, employment statistics, and income and earnings reports.
Additional CLT Resources
Explore all of these additional resources that will help you learn more about the CLT model and explore what role a CLT could play in your community as you start to really think about who, what, where, why and when of your work.


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3. Have you decided on an organizational and governance structure for your CLT?

Now that you have spoken to your community, formed a shared vision and started to think about who your CLT will serve and how you can now start to dig into the nuts and bolts of starting your initiative. There are a lot of different ways that you can structure your new CLT. From creating a program within an existing organization to starting a new nonprofit organization you have a lot of options to consider. Unfortunately (or fortunately, CLTs are not a “one size fits all” kind of organization and so these resources will help you decide on the best way to structure your CLT. Do note, that as you learn more, you may decide to amend and revise the decisions that you had previously made. Don’t worry—this is to be expected!

The Diverse World of Community Land Trusts, Chapter 1 of Starting a CLT: Organizational and Operational Choices
Learn about the key features of the “classic” CLT along with the model’s most common variations when it comes to how CLTs are structured in this e-book by John Davis of Burlington Associates.
Chapter 3: Incorporation and Basic Structural Considerations
Consider the structural issues involved in establishing a CLT as an independent not-for-profit corporation as outlined in the third chapter of the 2011 CLT Technical Manual. For the most part, these are issues that must be addressed whether the organization is to have the structure of a “classic’ CLT or one of the variations described in the previous manual chapter on initial choices.
Chapter 4: CLT Bylaws Considerations
Learn more about the basic considerations involved in drafting bylaws for various types of CLT organizations by reading the fourth chapter of the 2011 CLT Technical Manual..
Additional Resources about organizational and governance structures
Explore all of these additional resources that will help you learn more about organizational and governance structures for your CLT.


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4. Do you have an execution plan for the next 12 months? 5 years?

By this point in the process, you have had a lot of conversations and have made quite a few decisions when it comes to your new CLT. Now is the time to create a business plan that will take all of those decisions your group has made and package them in a form that supporters, funds, lenders, and others will understand. Most groups that embark on a business planning process work with a consultant or expert to help facilitate the process and to bring an outsider’s perspective. We encourage you to use the tools and examples as a starting place and to reach out to a staff person on our Capacity Building team for more information and support.

Business Plan Example
Take a look at a sample business plan for a start-up CLT. A good business plan is a fluid document that continues to be evaluated and updated based on new assumptions and real life situations.
CLT Start-up and Implementation Task List
Dig into this task list, developed by Burlington Associates and refined by Grounded Solutions Network, as details the most common tasks that are needed to start and operate a CLT. This task list is designed for the Board of the CLT to decided if the individual CLT, a collective group, or someone else outside of the organization should be responsible for completing a certain task.
Stewardship Standards for Homeownership Programs, Chapter 1 Program & Business Planning
Review chapter 1 of the Stewardship Standards for Homeownership to see what business planning practices you you should think about as you are setting up your new organization. The “Standards” were developed collaboratively by a number of national organizations, practitioners, and experts for the purpose of providing an educational resource and measurable framework to help affordable homeownership programs achieve excellence and maximize impact. .
The City-CLT Partnership, Municipal Support for Community Land Trust
Find out about the growing number of cities and counties that have chosen not only to support existing CLTs but also to start new ones in this report written by John Davis and Rick Jacobus.


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5. Have you determined what kind of resources you will need for execution?

Now that you have your written business plan, it is time to put numbers to all of those great ideas. These tools will help you create an organizational budget for your start-up CLT and a development budget for your proposed first project. An organizationalbudget is a plan or forecast of outgoing expenses and incoming revenues for a specific time period. A development budget is a plan or forecast of the resources needed through loans (financing), grants (funding) and how those funds will be expended to create affordable housing. And remember, while financial resources are always helpful, you will need community, political and other types of non-monetary support as well.

Start-up CLT budget template
Take a look at a sample business plan for a start-up CLT. A good business plan is a fluid document that continues to be evaluated and updated based on new assumptions and real life situations.
Accounting Handbook: Quickbooks for CLTs
Save yourself a lot of time and aggravation by reading this great introduction to QuickBooks, Courtesy of the Community Land Trust Alliance of the San Juan Islands, before you set up your books.
Development Budget: Proformas what to look out for? (Coming Soon)
Be aware: development budgets, also known as development proformas, can be complex at times. This resource will help you look at these development documents in a new way. .
Advocacy Tool Kit
Don’t forget to build wide support for your CLT. Advocacy is critical to sustaining and growing your community land trust and permanently affordable housing field more generally. This toolkit will help clarify the role of nonprofits in political advocacy (what you can and cannot do) and help you and your organization become more effective advocates.


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6. Have you laid the groundwork for your first project?

After completing all of the steps above, you’ve successfully developed your CLT organization. Now, you need to focus on building out your program which includes critical decisions like customizing your ground lease, selecting a resale formula and recruiting lenders to provide mortgage financing to your future homebuyers (if appropriate). While this section focuses on homeownership, many CLTs have projects that include a rental urban agriculture or other non-residential program.

Chapter 11-A THE 2011 CLT NETWORK MODEL GROUND LEASE (PDF version) (Word version)
Get to know one of the most important legal documents when it comes to operating a Community Land Trust—the ground lease. This document lays out the agreement that the CLT and a new homeowner or lessee will follow.
Chapter 11-B Commentary on the 2011 CLT Network Model Ground Lease
For more even more information, read chapter 11-B of the 2011 CLT Technical Manual which comments on the terms of the Model Lease and is designed to provide information about the considerations that have gone into drafting and revising the Model Lease over the years.
Video Learning Series – How to Set an Initial Affordable Price & Design a Resale Formula Grasp key resale formula concepts in only 60 minutes!
Watch our video learning series on setting an initial affordable price for a home and selecting a resale formula—both of which make all the difference in whether a home stays affordable or gets lost to the market.
The Advantages of First Mortgage Lending to Buyers of Community Land Trust Homes
Prepare for meetings with banking partners by reading this introductory tool for lenders to learn more about CLTs and the advantages of lending to CLT homebuyers.
Additional Resources for laying the groundwork for your first project.
Explore all of these additional resources that will help you learn more about laying the groundwork for your first project.


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