What is a Community Land Trust?

Community Land Trusts: A proven model

Community land trusts are non-profit organizations that own land and lease it out to meet shared needs. The diverse uses of CLT land include: quality affordable homeownership, parks, educational centers, cooperative and rental housing, agriculture, affordable commercial space, community gardens and more.

CLTs don’t obtain land for profit. Instead we move land from the narrow constraints of speculative control to open democratic decision making and the limitless creativity of the community. We know that the land is the foundation on which we live, work, learn, create and grow. Further, we know that how we use the land is what matters the most for communities. We uphold people over profit resting on a belief that given the opportunity, tools and resources we can and will overcome the practice of using land as a means of accumulation and extraction in favor of something richer, participatory and life giving.

By removing land from the private market, we are able to protect it and provide lasting stability. The value of the land and essential for community life is not up for debate nor is it to be determined by the forecasts of investors. People living, working on, or farming the land will not be displaced because of speculations about the value of the land. Furthermore, CLTs are governed by groups of people who make decisions about how the land is used for community benefit.

The model for CLTs in this country is New Communities. Founded in Albany, GA during the Civil Rights Movement, New Communities was a collective of Black farmers practicing community ownership and collective governance. At SBCLT, our work follows in that tradition: we seek to build community wealth and governance first and foremost. SBCLT works has been inspired by the work of CLTs across the country and are a part of the SHARE network of community land trusts committed to building development without displacement here in Baltimore.

More resources about CLTs

Overview of CLTs (Community-wealth.org)

Frequently Asked Questions about CLTs (Burlington Associates)

CLT Resource Library (Grounded Solutions Network)

Global CLT Map and Directory (Center for Community Land Trust Innovation)

Center for Community Land Trust Innovation • Supporting the Growth of the Global CLT Movement

New York City Community Land Initiative Resource Page

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