The land trust movement in the United States has gained notoriety over the past 30 years mainly for its role in environmental conservation. Known as land conservancies, these non-profit organizations—such as The Nature Conservancy—acquire land in what is known as “fee simple”, in order to conserve natural resources by protecting land from development.

A lesser-known type of organization, a community land trust (CLT), uses similar legal tools in a very different way to accomplish very different objectives: the preservation of affordable housing; avoidance of gentrification; and building of community wealth.

According to, as of 2022, there are 314 community land trusts with Shared Equity programs in 46 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., with almost 44,000 affordable housing units. A majority (87%) of those residents are first-time home buyers, and 45% are people of color.

The CLT model works by purchasing land on behalf of the community and holding it in trust, in perpetuity. The CLT can sell the land and structures on the properties, with the option to repurchase, or enter into a long-term lease, typically a ground lease, during which the tenant can make improvements to the property, and during which time the CLT maintains an interest in maintenance of the structures and property. If the buyer chooses to sell, the CLT retains the right to repurchase the structures for an agreed-upon formula giving the buyer partial equity. The remaining equity stays with the CLT, and the structure is re-sold at below market rate. The cost of the land is forever retained within the trust.

The National Community Land Trust Network provides resources and coordination for CLT’s in the U.S.

Read the full article about community land trust by Nina Ignaczak at Sharable.