Bringing the CLT Home

Shelterforce has done quite a bit recently on community land trusts and tracking their ever-increasing role in creating affordable housing and stabilizing neighborhoods. In the Summer 2011 issue, our 36th anniversary, we continue our coverage of the CLT model, but with a twist: by way of an innovative program in Minneapolis, you don’t have to go to the land trust — you can bring the land trust to you.

Staci Horwitz, program director for the Minneapolis-based City of Lakes Community Land Trust, writes in her article, It’s All About Choice, about her organization’s Homebuyer Initiated Program, or HIP, that provides grants intended to fill the financial gap between an affordable mortgage and the cost of a market-rate home.

As is the case with other CLTs, Horwitz writes, the focus remains on “stewarding public resources for affordable housing, creating community-controlled assets by retaining ownership of the land, and implementing resale resrictions that keep houses affordable for future buyers.” But unlike other CLTs, City of Lakes’s HIP allows qualified buyers to meet with a real estate agent (working in tandem with CLCLT staff) and bring a house of their choice into the CLT. According to Horwitz, CLCLT “buys the land at the same time as the buyer buys the house directly from the seller.”

Buyers are subject, as one might expect, to orientation and homebuyer education workshops, but there are key differences between the HIP model and other CLTs outlined in Horwitz’s piece: For example, CLCLT avoids tying its affordability investment directly to the value of the land, but rather, focuses “on understanding the affordability gap of its community and determining a range of affordability investments that [align] with needs at varying AMI levels.” More, HIP gives rehab grants, but stipulates that rehab take place post-purchase, after the homeowner moved in:

‘This would allow homeowners to be more of a partner in the rehab process, by having a say in selection of colors or materials required for repairs and secondarily providing another onsite pair of eyes to ensure the quality of the work.’

Horwitz goes into much more detail on this innovative program that helps families acquire the home of their choice, and preserves the affordability of that home.

For further reading, see the NHI paper, Investing in Community Land Trusts, which showcases interviews with 15 funders from 13 foundations whose scope ranges from local to state, to regional, and national.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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