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Community land trusts

by KIKI MILLER/Guest Contributor
| July 7, 2024 1:00 AM

The Housing Solutions Partnership ToolKit provides opportunities to address the housing crisis in Kootenai County. One tool is Community land trusts (CLT), which offers a unique and effective solution. 

A CLT is a nonprofit organization that separates home ownership from land ownership. The CLT holds the land in trust, while individuals or families buy the house itself at a significantly reduced price. Homeowners then lease the land from the CLT at a fixed affordable rate.

Benefits for homeowners:

• Affordability: CLTs make homeownership attainable by separating the cost of the land from the house. This allows buyers to qualify for mortgages with lower down payments and reduces their monthly housing costs.

• Long-Term Stability: Homes purchased through a CLT come with restrictions on resale. Homes must be sold back to the CLT at a price that reflects the original purchase price plus any improvements made by the homeowner. This ensures the home remains affordable for future buyers.

• Building Equity: Even with resale restrictions, homeowners can still build equity through improvements they make to the property. This allows them to accumulate wealth and potentially transition to the traditional housing market in the future.

• Community Focus: CLTs are often rooted in specific neighborhoods, fostering a sense of community and shared ownership. Homeowners often have a say in how the CLT operates, promoting resident engagement and a stake in the neighborhood's success.

Benefits for communities:

• Revitalization: CLTs can help revitalize neighborhoods by providing access to affordable homeownership, attracting new residents and stabilizing property values.

• Reduced Displacement: By keeping housing affordable, CLTs help prevent displacement due to rising housing costs, allowing residents to stay in their communities.

Building a more secure future

Community land trusts offer a compelling solution for increasing access to affordable home ownership and fostering strong, stable communities. By separating land and home ownership, CLTs empower individuals and families to achieve the dream of owning a home while ensuring long-term affordability for generations to come.

Who manages a CLT?

Community land trusts are typically managed by nonprofit organizations with a board of directors. This board should reflect the community the CLT serves, with representation from residents, local interests and potentially public agencies. 

There are resources available from organizations like the Grounded Solutions Network that can help guide the process of establishing a mission, building a governing structure and securing funding for land acquisition. Panhandle Affordable Housing Alliance has recently worked with this organization and is certified in CLT management. Other nonprofits can be formed and become certified as well in order to bring this solution to Kootenai County. 

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Kiki Miller is a Coeur d’Alene City Council Member and Founding Member of the Housing Solutions Partnership.