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.