PrintHow A Community Land Trust Works:

COMMUNITY LAND TRUST  OF SCHENECTADY (CLTS)  uses the land trust model of home ownership. When we sell a home, we sell the  house itself, but retain ownership of the land on which it sits. We lease the  land to the homebuyer in a one-time renewable 99 year lease. The home buyer has  full rights to use the land and agrees to live in the home. Their children may  inherit the home and the land lease.When a COMMUNITY LAND TRUST  OF SCHENECTADY homeowner sells their home, CLTS has premier rights to buy the house back.

Benefits Of A Land Trust:

  •  Community Investment: CLTS land is held permanently and never sold so it can always be used in the community’s best interest.
  • Affordability: The CLTS model reduces the price of a property significantly, so that lower income families may be eligible to purchase a home of their own. The land trust model also means that the CLTS can keep the price of homes affordable for the long-term, despite changes in the housing market.

What is a community land trust?

A community land trust is a private  non-profit corporation created to acquire and hold land for the benefit of a  community and provide secure affordable access to land and housing for community  residents. In particular, CLTs attempt to meet the needs of residents least  served by the prevailing market. CLT’s prohibit speculation and absentee  ownership of land and housing, promote ecologically sound land-use practices,  and preserve the long-term affordability of housing.

What makes a CLT distinctive?

Several things- here are five:

Commitment to Local Control. CLTs are usually initiated to provide greater local control over land and housing ownership. The CLT is a membership organization with members drawn from the land-trust leaseholders and the wider community. CLT members elect a governing board that includes leaseholders, nonresident members and others who represent the broader community.

Protects Long-term Affordability of Housing. CLTs protect affordability for future residents by controlling the sale of buildings and other improvements on their land. Specifically, the CLT retains the first option to repurchase these improvements-if residents choose to sell- at a “limited appreciation” price. The CLT lease agreement includes a formula for calculating the price that offers resident-owners fair compensation for their investment. (Their share does not include value from market appreciation of the CLT’s investment in the land or buildings.) In this way the CLT preserves the community’s investment of public and private resources (time, treasures and talent) that go into creating a CLT and making housing affordable.

Dual Ownership. The way in which the CLT protects the community’s long-term interest is by continuing to own land while conveying the long term use of the land to individuals, cooperatives or other entities. Leaseholders won their homes and other improvements. Terms of the arrangement between a CLT and owner using the land are defined in a long-term land lease. The land trust offers leaseholders security, and opportunity to transfer the lease to their heirs and full rights of privacy.

An Ongoing Development Program. CLTs are not generally focused on a single project. CLTs are committed to an active acquisition and development program that attempts to meet diverse community needs.

Flexibility. CLTs can accommodate a range of specific programs while providing a focus for community organizing. A CLT can help create and preserve such critical local resources as affordable housing, family farms, neighborhood businesses and social services while establishing land-use control that protect the long-term interests of the community. Although CLTs generally promote resident ownership and management, a CLT may also develop and preserve needed rental housing.

How are CLTs different from  conservation land trusts?

They are similar in many ways. Both  CLTs and conservation land trusts control land use for the benefit of people in  the future as well as the present, but they tend to be concerned with different  types and uses of land. Conservation trusts are primarily concerned with  controlling rights to undeveloped land to preserve open space, ecologically  fragile or unique environments, wilderness, or productive forest or agricultural  land. CLTs on the other hand, are primarily concerned with acquiring developed  or developable land for specific community uses- particularly residential use.  These concerns are not mutually exclusive, and some land trusts combine these  purposes, preserving some land in a natural state while leasing other land for  development. All land trusts have an ethic of land stewardship; they try to see  that land is not developed or used inappropriately.

How does a CLT help residents?

By providing access, affordability  and security. CLTs use various kinds of subsidies to make housing and land-use  more affordable for people who cannot compete in the market. CLTs keep housing  affordable for future generations by controlling the price owners receive when  they sell their homes. CLTs might assist residents with home repair,  rehabilitation and/or financing. The CLT lease offers residents and their heirs  long-term security.

Are CLTs supported by local  governments?

Yes. Though some of the first CLTs  were started in communities suffering from government neglect, it is now more  common for CLTs to work in cooperation with local governments in meeting present  and future community needs. Public officials are recognizing that CLTs can play  an important role as stewards of community resources- that property and funds  allocated to a CLT can benefit not only present community recipients but future  residents as well. Several CLTs have been established with strong initiative and  support from local governments. A number of municipalities have allocated  Community Development Block Grant funds, as well as other available funds, to  CLT programs. Some have allocated city-owned land. State housing financing  agencies are increasingly interested in making financing available for housing  on CLT land, and server state legislatures have acted to appropriate special  funds to finance acquisitions by land trusts.

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