The number of very low-income households without any housing subsidy who pay more than 50% in rent grew from about 6 million in 2005 to approximately 8.3 million in 2015. There were over 2.3 million eviction filings in 2016 and in 2017 approximately 1.4 million households were forced out of their homes unwillingly in the previous two years.
Homeownership is increasingly out of reach for low-income and middle-class people, with home prices outstripping income gains for the past six years. Because of these conditions, community development practitioners and local policymakers across the country are seeking tools to combat displacement. One of the more visible of these strategies involves creating or
scaling-up Community Land Trusts (CLTs).
CLTs are entities or programs that hold land and govern the terms around which owners or tenants can use it. In most cases, CLTs use a “ground lease” to achieve permanent affordability by putting resale restrictions into place and setting guidelines about income eligibility. CLTs are lauded for creating permanently affordable housing, and for building a neighborhood-wide constituency for its sustained community ownership. At the same time, most land trusts are relatively small compared to the scale of local and national housing need. This policy brief asks how partnerships between CLTs and community development institutions can scale up and sustain land trusts so as to begin to impact displacement at the neighborhood level. These goals of scale and sustainability are intertwined. Achieving scale means identifying new pipelines and resources to secure land and properties, and to rehabilitate them as needed. Making sure these larger land trusts are sustainable means ensuring that new properties’ financing and governance will allow for permanent affordability.