What is a Community Land Trust?

CLTs are non-profit organizations that work with and on behalf of community residents to identify uses for the land based upon participatory planning exercises and collaborative decision-making.

The Community Land Trust (CLT) model focuses on the acquisition of donated or purchased land within a defined geographical area of a city to serve the needs of community residents, with an emphasis on social justice. CLTs are non-profit organizations that work with and on behalf of community residents to identify uses for the land based upon participatory planning exercises and collaborative decision-making. Most often, the use of land is geared towards affordable housing provision as a commonly identified community need. Buildings on CLT land can be owned or rented by individuals and families. A central aspect of the role of CLT organizations in countering gentrification is the emphasis on the de-commodification of land through its removal from the speculative property market. 

The contemporary origins of the CLT lie in community organizing by African-American tenant farmers in the southern United States as part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. In Canada, several CLTs, such as Colandco in Toronto and Communauté Milton Parc in Montreal, have been in existence since the 1980s. While land acquisition for affordable housing and other community uses remains a core part of CLT work, more recent CLTs in Canadian cities, such as the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, Hogan’s Alley Society in Vancouver, and the Kensington Market Community Land Trust, reach beyond this to raise public awareness about the impacts of gentrification, affordable housing constraints, displacement and eviction.