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A community land trust (CLT) is a private non-profit community organization that safeguards land in order to provide affordable housing opportunities. CLTs acquire properties through market purchase and/or land donations. The land trust retains the title to the land while selling homes on it at below-market value. The CLT keeps the price of homes affordable by separating the price of the house from the cost of the land. The land is leased at a nominal cost (often $1) through a ground lease. When a family decides to sell a CLT home, the home is either sold back to the land trust or to another income-qualified buyer. The resale amount is determined by a formula that provides a fair return on investment to the seller, but also ensures the property remains affordable to future purchasers.
CLTs can be used to reduce the widening gap between income and housing costs and to revitalize neighborhoods without causing gentrification. Local residents can experience the benefits of homeownership and long-term control of neighborhood resources through a variety of housing types including a house, an apartment, or a housing cooperative. Residents are members of the non-profit organization and are encouraged to actively participate by joining the board of directors. Most importantly, CLT provisions permanently preserve the affordability of housing for lower-income groups who do not normally have access to homeownership. The CLT model has been successful in providing over 5,000 homes in community-controlled neighborhoods nationwide.