About Community Land Trusts
What is a community land trust (CLT)?
A community land trust (CLT) is a private, nonprofit organization created to acquire and hold land for the benefit of a community and provide secure affordable access to land and housing for community residents. In particular, CLTs work to meet the needs of residents not served by the market. CLTs prohibit speculation and absentee ownership of land and housing, promote ecologically sound land-use practices, and preserve the long-term affordability of housing.
What makes a CLT distinctive?
- Accountability and Commitment to Local Control: CLTs provide greater local control over land and housing. Homestead members are our homeowners and supporters in the broader community. Our members elect a Board of Delegates that include Homestead homeowners, non-resident members and others who represent the community.
- Protecting the Permanent Affordability of Housing: Homestead protects affordability for future residents by controlling the resale price of homes within the trust. Our ground lease includes a formula for calculating a price that offers homeowners predictable and fair compensation for their investment. In this way, Homestead preserves the community's investment of public and private resources and makes each home in our trust permanently affordable.
- Dual Ownership: Homestead protects the community's long-term interests by separating the ownership of land from the ownership of the home. Homeowners own their homes and other improvements, and lease the land beneath their homes from Homestead. Terms of the arrangement between Homestead and our homeowners are defined in a renewable and inheritable 99-year ground lease. Homestead offers our homeowners security, an opportunity to transfer the lease to their heirs, and full rights of privacy.
How do CLTs work with homeowners?
CLTs provide ongoing affordable homeownership opportunities, a sense of security, legacy, and equity. Homestead uses a variety of subsidies to make homeownership affordable for people who are locked out of the market. We keep housing affordable for future generations by controlling the price owners receive when they sell their homes.
Homestead partners with its homeowners to support their long-term success, providing resources, information, advocacy, and resale assistance as needed. Homestead homeowners build secure, predictable equity in their home over time, strengthening families across generations. So far, not a single Homestead homeowner has lost their home to foreclosure. Read about some of Homestead's homeowners .
Are CLTs supported by local governments?
Yes. Much of Homestead’s subsidy for housing comes from the city, county and state.
How are CLTs different from conservation land trusts?
They are similar in some aspects, and have mutually beneficial missions. Both CLTs and conservation land trusts control land use for the benefit of people in the future as well as the present; but they tend to be concerned with different types and uses of land.
Conservation trusts are primarily focused on controlling rights to undeveloped land in order to preserve open space, ecologically fragile or unique environments, wilderness, productive forest or agricultural land. On the other hand, CLTs such as Homestead, are primarily concerned with acquiring land for specific community uses, particularly residential use.
These purposes are not mutually exclusive, and some land trusts combine these purposes, preserving some land in a natural state while leasing other land for development. All land trusts have an ethic of land stewardship; their missions include holding land for the long-term and ensuring appropriate use.
More about CLTs . . .
CLTs have roots that come from thein India in the 1950’s, and the Civil Rights movement in the American South in the 1960’s. Preserving access to land for persons excluded due to social status or level of income were primary catalysts for the creation of the modern CLT. Homestead is the only CLT in Seattle, and the largest of the 17 in Washington State. There are over 200 CLTs in the country, and we all do things a little differently.
Homestead is just one CLT in a growing regional, national and international movement. There are 30 or so CLTs in the Pacific Northwest and most are a part of the Northwest Community Land Trust Coalition. More information about the many CLTs serving communities across the US can be found on the National Community Land Trust Network's website. There is a national network of CLTs in the United Kingdom and CLTs starting up in Belgium, France, Australia and Kenya.