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The Effectiveness of Community Land Trusts

An Affordable Homeownership Comparison

Mickey Lauria and Erin Comstock

December 2007, English

The Community Land Trust (“CLT”) concept shows promise as an affordable housing strategy that allocates resources wisely and creates sustainable affordability. Existing research has demonstrated that some CLTs do deliver on their promises of affordability for second owners and return of subsidies to the CLT program, among other goals. Despite these successes, more research is necessary to understand how widespread these successes are. Additionally, research is needed to determine how effective CLTs are compared to other affordable housing strategies. This research will add a fresh perspective to the academic literature by taking an empirical look at the Northern Communities Land Trust in Duluth, Minnesota, a heretofore unstudied CLT. It will examine the Community Land Trust model in the context of another affordable homeownership program to evaluate the relative efficiency with which they both use public subsidies. It will also consider some of the classic CLT questions such as equity sharing, perpetual affordability, and efficient use of subsidies. Through this research, a better understanding of the relative effectiveness of subsidies in creating and sustaining affordable housing will strengthen the analysis and evaluation of housing policies and guide affordable housing investment strategies.