- CLTs are democratically governed, community-based organizations. Traditional CLTs have broad memberships based on the communities they serve who directly elected at least two thirds of the organization’s board of directors. Additionally, many CLTs provide numerous ways for members to participate in the daily operations of the organization. Because of this direct power over that members have over the organization, CLTs are deeply committed and accountable to the communities they serve.
- CLTs purchase and steward land for long-term, permanently affordable use by the communities they serve. When a CLT purchases a piece of property, it separates the deed to the land from the deed to whatever structures exist on the land. The CLT maintains ownership of the land and places restrictions on the sale price of the land itself and whatever structures exist on the land. This allows the CLT to ensure the land and the structures on it remain permanently affordable, even when market rate development and gentrification drive up the price of land and housing in the same area.
- CLTs facilitate holistic community development. Through the combination of permanently affordable land and a democratic community organization, CLTs are uniquely positioned to facilitate community-controlled community development.
Land Banks are usually public entities that acquire land and use it for future development. Lank banks are often focused on short-term rehabilitation or improvements. Once homes or buildings are repaired, they are usually passed onto private organizations.
Land Trusts are mostly private, nonprofits that also focus on rehabilitation, renovation, and remediation. However, Land Trusts are focused on the long-term acquiring of land, and are heavily community oriented. Their goal is to work with community members and neighborhoods to restore housing and other public entities in the community.
There are more than 260 Community Land Trusts across the United States, and dozens more in other countries around the world! In the 50 years that CLTs have existed, they have done incredible things for the communities that use them. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Based in Jackson, Mississippi, Cooperation Jackson is a comprehensive effort to build a solidarity economy. They combine the CLT model with various types of cooperatives and autonomous people’s assemblies. CJ is one of the best, most comprehensive, and most radical models of community development anywhere in the world!
- Based in Oakland, California, Oak CLT has done some incredible work with the group Mom’s 4 Housing, a group of moms who occupied a home owned by a giant corporate slumlord in Oakland, and successfully won it’s transfer to the CLT. An incredible example of solidarity and the power of organizing.
- Based in the Dudley Street Neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, DSNI is one of the oldest urban CLTs still in operation today. They have used their CLT, Dudley Neighbors Inc. to facilitate holistic community revitalization, and even won the power of eminent domain for all land in their neighborhood.
- Based in Albany, New York, this CLT is also one of the oldest still in operation today. Albany has done incredible work in acquiring, rehabilitating, and preserving permanently affordable housing in the City of Albany since the 1980s.
Our city has been experiencing crises in housing, food security, policing, violence, unemployment, poverty, and so many other areas of social life for generations now. These crises have always affected BIPOC Communities far more than they have affected white communities. To us, the root cause of these crises is that BIPOC Communities in Rochester have always and continue to be treated as sources of wealth to be extracted from.
Whether it is out of town landlords who charge way too much for terrible quality housing that they never maintain, corporate chains who sell low quality goods and pay poverty wages, or large developers who get massive tax breaks from our governments to build things our community does not need, the driving force is the same. Communities of Color are primarily sources of profit for wealthy, mostly white people who do not come from or care about the people in those communities. This is the root cause of the many problems our community faces, and in order to do anything about it, we need to change who owns and controls resources in our community
Rochester needs a Community Land Trust because the CLT model is uniquely capable of addressing these problems at their root. CLTs take the resources that have been used to exploit our community, specifically land and housing, and puts them under the direct control of our community, for the benefit of our community alone.
While evictions and foreclosures are still possible with CLT houses, the process looks a bit different than a non-CLT eviction or foreclosure. The CLT’s mission is to house low and moderate income people, and without a profit motive the CLT is far more willing to figure out a solution when tenants and homeowners are facing difficult times. For instance, during the Covid-19 pandemic the CLT was able to offer rent forgiveness when folks were finding it hard to make ends meet. Even without a global crisis, the CLT always puts people before money.
CLT’s like ours have an excellent track record for having far fewer foreclosed properties than the national average. In addition to this, many CLTs are implementing stewardship activities such as pre-purchase education, prevention of high-risk loans, early detection of and intervention in delinquencies and foreclosure filings, and ongoing support for homeowners after purchase.
The CLT essentially acts as a safety net for renters and homeowners by providing help every step of the way to avoid evictions/foreclosures.
City Roots mission is to create permanently affordable, community controlled land in Rochester. We work to achieve this mission by bringing land under the control of our organization, which is democratically governed by our membership, our community. This is why members are so crucial to City Roots. Our membership IS our community. They put the community in Community Control.
There are a number of ways that members can participate in the governance and day to day work of our organization. Some of those include:
- Voting for our board of directors every year
- Joining a Member Committee to work on CLT Projects
- Chairing a Member Committee
- Volunteer at home rehab days
If you’re interested in becoming a member of City Root’s Community Land Trust feel free to reach out to us to learn more!