Community Land Bank + Community Land Trust = Affordable Housing

Home in a Community Land Trust in India
Pochampally_020 photo by Saurabh Chatterjee is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A house in the pioneering community land trust village of Pochampally, India.

Community Land Banks, under one name or another, have been around pretty much since the dawn of cities. They are the result of communities, through one means or another, acquiring land. For example, land may sometimes be donated to a town or city. More often it arrives through foreclosure after a period of time during which a landowner does not pay city taxes.

Land Trusts are a somewhat different animal. But they are also ancient. They’ve had a well known history since the time of England’s King Henry VIII1. The purpose of a land trust is to place restraints upon land, guaranteed by a trustee, such that the use of the land will not change in the future — often in perpetuity.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are an offshoot of land trusts where the community itself becomes the trustee of land as well as the restrictions on its use. CLTs can trace roots to a movement born in 1951 with a village-guaranteed land trust in Pochampally, India in 1951.

CLTs are showing themselves to be a particularly powerful tool in removing land — these days often the most costly part of a home — from the free housing market. This can guarantee that a home remains affordable over time.

A recent article in Shareable remarks on the fact that city land banks and CLTs are seldom partnered together. The article carries on to make a case that they should be considered as natural partners in the creation of affordable housing. Read more: Why CLTs And City Land Banks Should Work Together To Create Permanently Affordable Housing


  1. Try: Land Trusts – What Are They? What Do They Mean For Affordable Housing?