A Community Land Trust is a non-profit organization that holds land permanently in trust for communities in order to make land permanently available for housing, farming, ranching, commercial space, historic preservation, or open space.
CLTs create permanent affordability by separating the price of land from the improvements made to it (such as homes or farm buildings), investing subsidy, and enforcing resale restrictions on properties to ensure permanent affordability.
Homebuyers, business owners, or farmers sign a ground lease agreeing to limit the equity they will take out at resale. This ensures the initial investment of subsidy stays with the property. In this way, people who generally are stuck in the rental market can build equity instead of paying a landlord. When they sell, the property remains affordable to the next buyer, and the buyer after that. Owners of the buildings pay taxes on what they own, and, depending on the community and the local tax base, they may pay taxes on the land as well.
Most CLTS in the U.S. focus on providing housing, but they can be used for so much more: the first CLT was established in 1969 by sharecroppers in Georgia to ensure access to agricultural land and economic opportunity for African American farmers. You can learn more about New Communities, the first CLT, here.
Today, there are more than 200 community land trusts in the U.S., with new CLTs being established in communities of all sizes and in all areas of the country. CLTs are recognized as one of the most effective tools to fight gentrification and displacement in cities, where outside investors and real estate speculators can push rents and property values beyond the reach of working people — but they also work to make blighted neighborhoods more livable.
Unlike most CLTs in the U.S., Trust Montana is chartered to hold land in order to facilitate and protect a multitude of different community assets other than housing: agricultural working lands, open space, historic preservation, and commercial development. We partner with local organizations and community leaders in the areas where we work to ensure our projects are community-driven.