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Community Land Trusts and Limited Equity Cooperatives

A Marriage of Affordable Homeownership Models?

Meagan M. Ehlenz

December 2014, English

Since 2008, many have questioned the efficacy of conventional homeownership, particularly for low-income households. Advocates champion shared equity homeownership as an alternative, including community land trusts (CLTs) and limited equity cooperatives (LECs); yet, they too have limitations. CLTs offer ongoing homeownership support, but require conventionally “bankable” households. LECs can offer low-income households autonomy and limited asset building, but often require fiscal and organizational support to succeed. This paper explores an innovation in shared equity—the merger of CLTs and LECs to address challenges and maximize collective strengths. Set within the context of the benefits and limits of CLTs and LECs as independent organizations, the paper examines five CLTs with LEC projects. It considers the CLTs’ motivations for pursuing LECs and appraises the characteristics of hybrid projects. While CLT-LEC projects are small in number, they illustrate an emergent practice in the field and speak to the organizational adaptability of the broader shared equity model.