Community Land Trusts (CLT) are community led organisations, set up and run by members (often volunteers) with the aim of developing and managing community assets such as houses, community gardens, community enterprises, civic buildings and commercial spaces that are important to that community. In the UK, most Community Land Trusts are set up to manage housing. According to the National CLT Network, there are more than 225 Community Land Trusts in England and Wales and they have developed over 700 affordable homes.
The current model of CLT emerged from the US during the civil rights movement, when African-Americans in the rural south created long-term opportunities for economic and residential independence. In Britain, we have a long history of community ownership and management of housing and assets. For example the The Diggers in the 17th century grew crops on seized land for the common and Cooperatives, mutuals, settlements and Garden Cities are all examples of collective ownership of community assets.
Under CLT, the land is kept in community ownership – so people can’t buy it at a low price and sell it off. People sell on the homes at a price according to local earnings. As stated here ‘With a community Land Trust, the land is the property of the community in perpetuity, in such a fashion that buyers only pay for the bricks and mortar, leaving the price of the land out of the equation. This makes the CLT concept a strong candidate as a solution for creating affordable housing’
The housing crisis caused by a combination of government policy and issues of supply and demand means that overcrowding, extortionate house prices in most areas, exploitative landlords, poor quality housing, high inflation, speculative investment in the houses is the norm. Clearly Community Land Trusts are not the only solution to the housing crisis and still a lot needs to be done if we want to solve our housing crisis.