Community Land Trusts (CLT) combine 'access to housing' with the principle of 'democratic management' in everyday living.
What is a CLT?
Community Land Trusts provide an interesting example in that they treat housing as a common good. This allows them to offer housing to people who cannot afford to rent or buy a place of their own. They therefore appear to offer a simple solution to the injustices and inequalities engendered by a volatile market economy, by removing land from the speculative market and managing it as a common good.
By preventing market factors from influencing house prices, they can keep the latter at an affordable level, thereby ensuring security and equitable treatment for homeowners. CLTs are based on a system of contracts between the landowner and the homeowner. The housing is purchased in the usual way: the owner obtains a mortgage with a bank, must pay property taxes and can leave the house to his or her heirs.
There are two major differences, however. Firstly, the CLT owns the land on which the homes are built and, secondly, the land lease contains a clause that ensures that if the home is sold, it must go to another low‑income person or family. In addition, the CLT is democratically controlled and is generally run by a board of directors that is one‑third residents, one‑third public officials and one‑third members of the local community. Such a scheme requires a firm commitment to open membership, inclusive governance and direct accountability to the community it serves.