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Community Land Trusts

Community land trusts are a proven model for communities to control land and development.

Community land trusts (CLTs) are nonprofit organizations governed by a board of CLT residents, community residents and public representatives that provide lasting community assets and shared equity homeownership opportunities for families and communities. CLTs develop rural and urban agriculture projects, commercial spaces to serve local communities, affordable rental and cooperative housing projects, and conserve land or urban green spaces. However, the heart of their work is the creation homes that remain permanently affordable, providing successful homeownership opportunities for generations of lower income families.

How a Community Land Trust Works

A typical community land trust for affordable housing works like this:

  • A family or individual purchases a house that sits on land owned by the community land trust.
  • The purchase price is more affordable because the homeowner is only buying the house, not the land.
  • The homeowners lease the land from the community land trust in a long-term (often 99-year), renewable lease.
  • The homeowners agree to sell the home at a restricted price to keep it affordable in perpetuity, but they may be able to realize appreciation from improvements they make while they live in the house.

Who Controls a Community Land Trust?

A typical community land trust is a nonprofit run by a board, staff, and community members. The community land trust balances the interest of its residents, the broader community, and the public interest to promote wealth building, retention of public resources, and solutions for community needs.

How can I learn more about community land trusts?

Grounded Solutions Network is here to help you build strong, inclusive communities from the ground up.

Explore our community land trust resources, including the Start-up CLT Hub, a toolkit designed to help your community chart a course for advancing from idea to implementation, and the Community Land Trust Technical Manual, a comprehensive guide to operating a community land trust. Be sure to check out our newest CLT and Shared Equity Housing data here: The 2022 Census of Community Land Trusts and Nonprofits with Shared Equity Homeownership Programs.


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