Community Land Trusts

Community Land Trusts


A community land trust (or “CLT(s)”) is a nonprofit corporation that develops and stewards assets on behalf of a community. It is commonly used in affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces and other community assets. There are over 200 community land trusts in the United States and more than a dozen in California. CLTs come in several flavors, but generally they are community non-profit organizations that buy and hold land, permanently removing it from the speculative real estate market. CLTs raise money via membership, donations, grants. Typically CLT boards consist of three more-or-less equally weighted constituencies: CLT housing residents, community leaders, and housing advocates/experts.

Under some CLT models, prospective homeowners purchase only the structural improvements, while paying a modest monthly fee to lease the underlying land from the CLT. As a result, homeowners carry a significantly smaller mortgage than if they had bought both the home and land in the conventional market. At the time of purchase, a CLT’s homeowners agree to resale restrictions set out in the ground lease that limits the future resale price of their homes in order to keep them affordable for the next generation of lower income buyers – unlike publicly funded models, there is no expiration of affordability covenants restricting the property (source).

Los Angeles

T.R.U.S.T. South LA is one example of a community land trust in Los Angeles. They have a model to create affordability by acquiring properties discounted through the foreclosure process, and then doubling density to decrease the land cost per unit – essentially cutting their land cost in half for each home.


  • TRUST South LA Housing Innovation Collaborative

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Community land trusts: CLTs are nonprofit organizations that acquire and manage land upon which affordable homes can
be developed. CLTs sell these homes to low- and moderate-income families at below-market rates but retain ownership of the
land. Home buyers lease the land from CLTs for a nominal fee. In exchange for purchasing a CLT property at an affordable price,
buyers agree to resell at a price that is affordable for future low-income owners. Resale price restrictions are enforced through
a 99-year ground lease.