Community Land Trust Image: An Indigenous woman stands on a background of desert canyons and an icon of a lightbulb.

A community land trust is a non-profit means to own and steward land for long-term public benefit.

The community land trust was first used in the US to protect rural lands for Black farmers in the late 1960s in Albany, Georgia. Today, it is typically used to preserve housing affordability for urban low-income residents and avoid displacement. Bernie Sanders, while mayor of Burlington, was a leading advocate of this strategy.

A community land trust preserves affordability through nonprofit land ownership in which residents have a direct say in governing. Typically, the family owning a home on trust land is entitled to a percentage of equity gain (often 25 percent), but the trust keeps the rest, ensuring housing affordability to the next family. Not only is this efficient, but the trust also can intervene in cases of default to forestall foreclosure; notably, land trust resident-owners had a foreclosure rate that was one-eighth the rate of “fee simple” (traditional) homeowners during the Great Recession.