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Community Land Trusts

Posted December 21, 2021
3:30 pm

Northeast Ohio does not have enough affordable housing. The same is true in many places around the country. One strategy that helps create more affordable housing is a community land trust, or CLT. There are about 277 CLTs across the United States today.

CLTs are non-profit organizations that own land and typically provide residential housing on that land. CLTs are different from most affordable housing projects for two reasons. First, CLTs help ensure that housing stays affordable permanently. Second, CLTs allow residents to build wealth by owning some of the value of their home. Homeowners buy their houses but also sign a long-term lease with the CLT for the land. The leases usually last 30-90 years. When the homeowner sells, they earn a portion of the increased property value. The remaining value stays with the CLT to keep the housing affordable for low and moderate income families.

In addition to making housing affordable, CLTs provide other benefits to the community. Land trusts protect homeowners from spikes and drops in the market. For example, standard households are 10 times more likely to face a foreclosure than a CLT household. Land trusts help build community wealth. They make homeownership accessible to lower income residents who might not have other ways to build equity. CLTs are often governed by community residents. As a result, the decision-makers for the trust are the people directly impacted by the land trust. Lastly, CLTs can be involved in other community initiatives such as increased green space, commercial development projects, and transit advocacy.

A new CLT, the Near West Land Trust, was formed in 2020 to build and maintain affordable housing in Ohio City, Tremont and Clark-Fulton neighborhoods. Other CLTs in Ohio include Central Ohio Community Land Trust and Yellow Springs Home, Inc. For more information about CLTs, visit Community Land Trusts (CLTs) | and Community Land Trusts | Grounded Solutions Network. Groups of low- income residents planning to create a CLT in northeast Ohio can call Legal Aid at 1.888.817.3777 to learn if they qualify for legal assistance with their project.

See Community Land Trusts (CLTs) on for facts and figures references in this article.

This article was published in Legal Aid's newsletter, "The Alert" Volume 37, Issue 2, in Winter 2021. See full issue at this link: “The Alert” – Volume 37, Issue 2 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (

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