WHAT'S A COMMUNITY
Community land trusts (CLTs) are nonprofit, community-based organizations tasked with holding land permanently "in trust" for the benefit of people in the community. CLT land can be used for many types of development, including commercial and agricultural uses, but CLTs are primarily used to ensure long-term housing affordability. CLTs are governed by a board of directors made up of housing residents, community representatives, and members of the general public.
Resident leadership and community control of land
STEWARDSHIP & SUPPORT
Long-term vision for supporting homeowners and neighborhoods
Housing that's within reach, today and for future generations
HOW DO COMMUNITY
LAND TRUSTS WORK?
Permanent Affordability through Shared Ownership
Land values have been rising for decades in many of our nation's cities, dramatically increasing the cost of housing in high-opportunity and historically under-served neighborhoods alike. The prospect of homeownership in our cities is drifting out of reach for many people as incomes fail to keep up with consistent growth in property values.
The community land trust model is designed to protect certain neighborhood land from the relentless upward pressure of urban land markets. In other words, the community land trust preserves some neighborhood land for community-serving uses, such as permanently affordable housing for everyday families with limited incomes.
Community land trust homeowners buy their home at a price they can afford, and are far more likely to be able to remain in their home for as long as they wish to stay -- without the pressures of unaffordable mortgage payments or rising property taxes in the surrounding neighborhood.
Community land trusts create housing affordability through shared ownership: the homeowner owns the home itself, while the community land trust owns the land beneath, stewarding it for the benefit of the homeowner, future homeowners, and the community as a whole.
The homeowner enters into a Ground Lease with the community land trust that allows her to enjoy exclusive use of the land beneath her home. The Ground Lease lasts 99 years, and is both renewable and inheritable.
In the Ground Lease, the homeowner agrees to earn modest equity in the home over time and, if they sell, to sell to another limited-income buyer. This way, the price of the home always remains affordable to future buyers.
IN THE BAYOU CITY
The Case for a CLT in Houston
Houston has historically held a reputation for being affordable, but today the reality is changing. Home prices have been steadily rising since the 2000s, drastically outpacing income growth over the same period. Over the past ten years alone, median home prices in Houston have increased by 67%, while household incomes have increased by only 20%.
Between 2012 and 2017, median residential land prices in Houston rose 38.1%, from $180,600 to $249,400 per acre. In 2018, the median sales price for a home in Houston was $237,500, an unaffordable price for a household making under $61,000 per year (or 80% of the Area Median Income for a family of four in 2019).
Thirty-five percent of low-income Houston residents are housing cost burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on rent or mortgage payments. In 2018, 35% of survey respondents reported that they had a problem paying for housing in the preceding year. High local transportation costs for those with long commutes to jobs further compound the difficulty faced by limited-income residents in finding suitable, affordable housing.
Houston ranked third in the nation in overall population growth in 2018 and continues to add residents each day. This growth is expected to continue, further driving up housing demand. Houston Community Land Trust intervenes in this looming affordability crisis by creating a new pathway to homeownership for those households for whom afforably-priced housing is growing increasingly difficult to find.
RESOURCES AND INFORMATION ON COMMUNITY LAND TRUSTS
GROUNDED SOLUTIONS NETWORK
A national network of people building strong, equitable communities and working to promote permanent affordability. A helpful explanation of Community Land Trusts from a national perspective.
A national consulting cooperative supporting community land trusts and other shared equity homeownership strategies. Their CLT Resource Center makes training materials, technical documents, and research reports freely available.
ARC OF JUSTICE
A film tracing the remarkable journey of New Communities, Inc. (NCI) in southwest Georgia, commonly considered the first CLT in the United States. A story of racial justice, community organizing, and perseverance in the face of enormous obstacles.
ROOTS & BRANCHES
A digital archive of historical materials tracing the origins and evolution of the community land trust, as both a model and a movement.
"CityLab University: Shared Equity Homeownership" discusses the history of shared-equity housing in America and imagines how it could become a bigger part of the housing ecosystem.