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Community Land Trusts

Best Practice Category

Complete Neighborhoods Affordable Housing

Description

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) purchase and retain ownership of land to ensure ongoing use for community purposes and are often established to promote long-term affordability for renters and homeowners. CLTs retain ownership of the land beneath homes and multi-family buildings, even after these buildings are sold to income-qualifying households or other nonprofits. By doing this, CLTs permanently remove the price of land from the home’s cost, reducing the degree to which rising land values inflate the cost of the home when property changes hands.

Local governments are becoming increasingly involved in the establishment and perpetuation of CLTs (Davis, J.E. & Jacobus, R., 2008). Some municipalities offer administrative or financial support during the planning or startup phase of a CLT; others may take on a larger role in building the CLT’s portfolio by donating city-owned land or providing low-interest loans to finance projects. Municipalities may help a CLT acquire and preserve housing provided by private developers to comply with other affordable housing strategies such as inclusionary zoning, density bonuses, or other mandates.

Collaboration between municipalities and communities is essential to making CLTs successful. While it is important for CLTs to reach out to municipal agencies, it is equally important for agencies to reach out to individuals and institutions participating in CLTs, either as homeowners or stakeholders. Engaging the local residents and prospective CLT homebuyers can help CLTs mitigate opposition to projects, win acceptance among funders, private lenders, and the larger community.

Outcomes

  • Increased access to affordable housing
  • Increased socioeconomic diversity within neighborhoods
  • Improved sense of community

Examples

TRUST South L.A. – TRUST South L.A. is a grassroots community organization committed to ensure affordable housing opportunities and community-serving land uses. In conjunction with their affordable housing development partner, Abode Communities, TRUST has raised $5 million in equity from private and public sources for land acquisition. Also largely focused on maximizing mobility to support healthy and vibrant communities, TRUST and Abode Communities acquired Rolland Curtis Gardens, a 2.3 acre property near the Expo/Vermont light rail stop, preserving 48 units of affordable housing.

Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust – The Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust (BVCLT) is focused on establishing an eco-friendly, pedestrian-centered neighborhood around the Beverly Vermont Metro Station. Their most notable acquisition is known as the L.A. Eco-Village, three miles west of downtown Los Angeles on Bimini and White House Place. The Village spans two blocks and is within a two to 15 minute walk of 20 bus lines and two Metro Red Line stations (LAEV, 2016). Within the Village, there are 50 permanent affordable housing units, with more developments underway.

Additional Examples

Atlanta Land Trust Collaborative (Atlanta, GA) – Spurred by a $2.8 billion transit-oriented development project along a 22-mile rail corridor, the Atlanta Land Trust Collaborative (ALTC) is a consortium of public sector, philanthropic, private, and community stakeholders. One of ALTC’s main goals is to support the creation and operation of non-profit, neighborhood-based CLTs along Atlanta’s Beltline and throughout the city. ALTC serves as an innovative model for CLTs because of its balance between community empowerment and the need for economies of scale and efficiency.

Denver TOD Fund (Denver, CO) – The Denver TOD Fund was established to support affordable housing in current and future transit corridors in Denver. With support from the TOD Fund, a separate entity--the Urban Land Conservancy--purchases and holds property for subsequent development. As of 2013, $15 million has preserved and created 626 affordable homes, with plans to expand the TOD fund to $30 million in total loan capital.

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