The California Community Land Trust Network

What is a Community Land Trust?

A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide and steward land and properties for the benefit of its low to moderate income community members through the use of a ground lease that ensures permanent affordability. Although the CLT model is well known for providing housing in a variety of tenant controlled models, it is flexible, allowing for community controlled businesses, services or other kinds of organizational adaptations depending on community need. Here are some of the numerous diverse ways in which California CLTs have implemented their models:

  • Tenant control focused housing: Cooperatives, condominium developments, single family homes, multi-family acquisition/rehab projects and new construction.
  • Mixed use and commercial properties; providing affordable business space to communities.
  • Green spaces such as community gardens and urban farms.

How Do CLTs Create Permanent Affordability?

A CLT achieves its mission by acquiring land and properties from the speculative real estate market, then ensures permanent affordability by leasing the land for a renewable term of 99 years to its residents and community members in order to address their collective needs.  Through acquisition and land stewardship, CLTs  provide  long term stability and resources  for  individuals and communities to thrive.

Shared Mission

Although there is a great diversity amongst California CLTs in both their size and how they implement their missions, they all still share several key attributes:

  • They are organized as a non-profit public benefit corporation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Has a primary purpose that includes the creation and maintenance of permanently affordable single-family or multifamily residences, community facilities and land under community control using the ground lease model. 
  • Centers on resident and community control or ownership of the improvements through direct engagement in individual projects and organizational governance. It accomplishes this by use of a tripartite board structure that includes equal representation of resident interests, community members and the public interest. The improvements (buildings, dwellings and developments)on the CLTs’ land are either sold or leased to an income qualified  owner, a resident cooperative, resident association organization to be their  primary residence or rented to persons and families of low or moderate income.
  • The CLT’s land is leased to the owners of the improvements: residents and community organizations  for a renewable term of 99 years. This helps ensure mutual accountability and guarantees the community investment in the land stays in use for the benefit of residents and the community at large through ongoing stewardship and support.

Want to learn more about Community Land Trusts (CLTs)?

The California Community Land Trust Network represents over 40 community land trusts, which combined steward 1,600 permanently affordable homes for over 3,500 Californians.

Our members fight the displacement of BIPOC and low-income families by keeping over $250M of community assets off the speculative market and in community control.



Watch the Webinar: Community Land Trusts 101

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