What’s a CLT?

What is CLT?

A Community Land Trust – CLT – is an entity, as opposed to a place. It is comprised of members, who elect a Board of Directors.

The CLT organization purchases land on which to develop permanently affordable housing. The CLT owns the land, then sells the buildings on the land at below market rate to the residents, who own, manage, and maintain them. The CLT is able to sell at below-market rates because the cost of the land is removed from the sale price. The CLT retains ownership of the land, and provides a 99-year lease of the land to the residents.

Prospective residents must meet certain income requirements to be eligible to live on a CLT property. In general, they must be low-income. However, in areas of extreme housing cost inflation (such as Sonoma County), someone with a somewhat higher level of income may be eligible.

It is also possible to be a renter resident on a CLT-owned property. It this case, the CLT would be the owner of the building. However, all management and maintenance responsibilities that apply to owners would apply to renters as well.

When a resident owner decides to move, the sale price of their unit is not determined by the marketplace. Instead, there is a calculation based on yearly inflation which determines the price. In this way, the housing remains affordable. The same applies to rental units.

Additional Resources:

“A New Gramdan Movement” article by the Schumacher Center for a New Economics traces the origins of the community land trust movement back to India, where Vinoba Bhave, the spiritual successor to Gandhi, journeyed from village to village on foot establishing the Gramdan system of “land-gifting.” Read more.

The Center for Community Land Trust Innovation writes on all topics related to: garden cities, community-led development, permanently affordable housing, cooperative ownership of land, housing, and enterprises, urban agriculture, neighborhood revitalization, reclaiming the commons, and sustainable development.