Month: November 2021

The Need For Public Housing

Origins of Public Housing in the United States

Amidst widespread poverty and unemployment of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt embarked on a mission to integrate publicly built affordable housing into his economic recovery plan, the New Deal. One of the most impactful elements of the New Deal was the Public Works Administration, an unprecedented mobilization of public resources to provide jobs and critical infrastructure to the American people and pull the nation out of a crippling depression. One of the longest lasting legacies of the PWA still stands today— public housing.

Throughout the course of the New Deal, the PWA provided over $6 billion, roughly $126.6 billion today, in funding for infrastructure projects including public housing, allowing public housing developments to expand across the country. The federal government aided municipal and state governments to form housing authorities tasked with building, administering, and maintaining the nation’s public housing stock, with nearly one million units still in existence today.  A third of our nation’s public housing stock is in just ten of the country’s major cities including New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Miami. Though wildly successful at building affordable units for over a million Americans, the legacy of public housing lives under the long shadow of America’s racial segregation with many developments housing separated and segregated communities.

In 1937, legislation was enacted placing price caps on government expenditures per unit, leading to the decline in quality of public housing as well as middle class residents in public housing.


A Promise Betrayed

Following World War II, Roosevelt’s successor, President Harry Truman changed course, re-orienting the government’s housing policy from mass subsidization of public housing to the controversial urban renewal program, a public-private partnership in which the government cleared blighted neighborhoods to pave the way for private developers to build homes and start businesses. Throughout the course of urban renewal, only one home was built for every four that were razed, marking an era of mass displacement and privatization. Moreover, the growing stigmatization of public housing as concentrated pockets of poverty led to a backlash, with states such as California enacting legislation to block further public housing development.



In 1965, the Housing and Urban Development Act was passed, creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which administers the country’s public housing and funding for affordable housing. The HUD Act introduced the first rental subsidy program funded by the federal government, marking a major policy shift with the government shifting the responsibility of affordable housing production and maintenance on private developers and landlords.

The rental subsidy program was enshrined as the central policy to boost housing affordability with the creation of the Section 8 housing choice vouchers in 1974, with Section 8 recipients paying 30% of their income toward rent and HUD vouchers paying for the difference between the market rate and tenants’ income-capped rent. Yet the market-based solution has allowed patterns of segregation as landlords discriminatorily refuse Section 8 vouchers to prevent lower-income residents, particularly people of color, to move into historically exclusionary neighborhoods.

Three years later, the Housing Act of 1968 banned high rise public housing development and accelerated white flight by reallocating funding to subsidize the purchase of single family homes outside the urban core, placing a larger share of maintenance on cities and states rather than the federal government. In doing so, America’s public housing system entered a constant cycle of disinvestment— rents collected from tenants were insufficient to properly fund the maintenance of our public housing buildings and most of our public housing stock fell into disrepair.

In 1973, Nixon ordered a moratorium on federal [1][2]aid for housing and community development. The subsequent three administrations, Reagan, Bush and Clinton, slashed HUD’s public housing funding by over 50%.


Successful Public Housing Models

Meanwhile, there are successful public housing models in cities and countries around the world, most notably Vienna, Austria and Singapore.



The city of Vienna is home to 220,000 units of publicly owned housing, roughly 25% of the city’s overall market.  In addition, the city has permitted private developers to build 200,000 units on publicly owned land, negotiating terms to ensure price controls and affordability requirements.1  Close to 60% of its residents live in public housing and units are capped at 20-25% of a resident’s income.  For over a century, Vienna has led and expanded its public housing portfolio with strong public support. In contrast to the United States where there is rigid means testing for subsidized housing, Viennese public housing units permit residents to stay in their units even if their income grows above the unit’s intended threshold allowing families to establish roots in a mixed income community with a stable and affordable home.



Singapore is another well cited example of public housing. Though different from the American and Austrian models, Singapore houses 82% of its population in public housing built by the Housing Development Board (HDB). In addition, approximately 90% of HDB residents own their apartments, allowing virtually all Singaporean residents an accessible and affordable path to homeownership.


Where Do We Go Now?

America is facing a devastating affordable housing crisis, with record rates of homelessness. The importance of maintaining existing and constructing new public housing units is re-entering the public policy discourse again.

There are over two million Americans living in public housing– 70% are people of color, 16% are seniors and 36% are disabled people. There are millions more who qualify for public housing units but are unable to secure a home due to shortage of units and lack of resources and support to navigate the system.  Housing experts agree that a deep investment in maintenance and construction of public housing units will not only make a significant impact on addressing our national homelessness crisis but spur economic growth by providing financial stability and security to millions of American households.



First, we must adequately fund local and state housing authorities to adequately maintain and retrofit our existing public housing stock.  Cities are at risk of continuing to lose precious units of our affordable housing to disrepair, mismanagement and neglect. In 2019, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the Green New Deal for Public Housing bill, which would provide a historic $180 billion to both repair and sustainably retrofit our 950,000 public housing units nationwide over the next ten years.  This bill would create up to 240,000 union jobs per year while reducing our annual carbon emissions by roughly 5.6 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking over 1.2 million cars off the road.

Second, we must invest in public housing neighborhoods to improve conditions surrounding public housing and improve services on-site to improve safety, wellness and resiliency of residents.

Third, we can fund the replacement of public housing units lost in the past, under the Faircloth Act limit, growing the existing supply of affordable homes in our nation.

As the shortage of affordable housing units continues to worsen every year, reaching a deficit of 5.2 million units this year, it’s clear that market-based solutions alone have not built the housing needed by millions of Americans.  Reinvesting in public housing is a part of the solution and should be a part of our strategy in housing every American.


To learn more about public housing in America and abroad, visit these resources:


American Public Housing:

Goetz, Edward. “Gentrification in Black and White: The Racial Impact of Public Housing Demolition in American Cities.” Urban Studies 48, no. 8 (2011): 1581–1604.

Ruechel, Frank. “New Deal Public Housing, Urban Poverty, and Jim Crow: Techwood and University Homes in Atlanta.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 81, no. 4 (1997): 915–37.

Bloom, Nicholas Dagen. “Public Housing That Worked: New York in the Twentieth Century.” (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).


Vienna Public Housing:

“Housing as a basic human right:” The Vienna Model of Social Housing


Singaporean Public Housing:

Eng, Teo Siew, and Lily Kong. “Public Housing in Singapore: Interpreting ‘Quality’ in the 1990s.” Urban Studies 34, no. 3 (1997): 441–52.

Yuen, Belinda. “Reinventing Highrise Housing in Singapore.” Cityscape 11, no. 1 (2009): 3–18.

Wealth Inequality Eating This Country Alive

Elon Musk’s wealth has surpassed $200 billion. It would take the median U.S. worker over 4 million years to make that much.

Wealth inequality is eating this country alive. We’re now in America’s second Gilded Age, just like the late 19th century when a handful of robber barons monopolized the economy, kept wages down, and bribed lawmakers.

While today’s robber barons take joy rides into space, the distance between their gargantuan wealth and the financial struggles of working Americans has never been clearer. During the first 19 months of the pandemic, U.S. billionaires added $2.1 trillion dollars to their collective wealth and that number continues to rise.

And the rich have enough political power to cut their taxes to almost nothing — sometimes literally nothing. In fact, Jeff Bezos paid no federal income taxes in 2007 or in 2011. By 2018, the 400 richest Americans paid a lower overall tax rate than almost anyone else.

But we can not solve this problem unless we know how it was created in the first place.

The Basics

Wealth inequality in America is far larger than income inequality.

Income is what you earn each week or month or year. Wealth refers to the sum total of your assets — your car, your stocks and bonds, your home, art — anything else you own that’s valuable.Valuable not only because there’s a market for it — a price other people are willing to pay to buy it — but because wealth itself grows.

As the population expands and the nation becomes more productive, the overall economy continues to expand. This expansion pushes up the values of stocks, bonds, rental property, homes, and most other assets. Of course recessions and occasional depressions can reduce the value of such assets. But over the long haul, the value of almost all wealth increases.

Lesson: Wealth compounds over time.

Next: personal wealth comes from two sources.The first source is the income you earn but don’t spend. That’s your savings. When you invest those savings in stocks, bonds, or real property or other assets, you create your personal wealth —  which, as we’ve seen, grows over time.

The second source of personal wealth is whatever is handed down to you from your parents, grandparents, and maybe even generations before them — in other words, what you inherit.

Lesson: Personal wealth comes from your savings and/or your inheritance.

Why the wealth gap is exploding

The wealth gap between the richest Americans and everyone else is staggering.

In the 1970s, the wealthiest 1 percent owned about 20 percent of the nation’s total household wealth. Now, they own over 35 percent.

Much of their gains over the last 40 years have come from a dramatic increase in the value of shares of stock.

For example, if someone invested $1,000 in 1978 in a broad index of stocks — say, the S&P 500 — they would have $31,823 today, adjusted for inflation.

Who has benefited from this surge? The richest 1 percent, who now own half of the entire stock market. But the typical worker’s wages have barely grown.

Most Americans haven’t earned enough to save anything. Before the pandemic, when the economy appeared to be doing well, almost 80 percent were living paycheck to paycheck.

Lesson: Most Americans don’t make enough to save money and build wealth.

So as income inequality has widened, the amount that the few high-earning households save — their wealth — has continued to grow. Their growing wealth has allowed them to pass on more and more wealth to their heirs.

Take, for example, the Waltons — the family behind the Walmart empire — which has seven heirs on the Forbes billionaires list. Their children, and other rich millennials, will soon consolidate even more of the nation’s wealth. America is now on the cusp of the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history. As wealthy boomers pass on, somewhere between $30 to $70 trillion will go to their children over the next three decades.

These children will be able to live off of this wealth, and then leave the bulk of it — which will continue growing — to their own children … tax-free. After a few generations of this, almost all of America’s wealth could be in the hands of a few thousand families.

Lesson: Dynastic wealth continues to grow.

Why wealth concentration is a problem

Concentrated wealth is already endangering our democracy. Wealth doesn’t just beget more wealth — it begets more power.

Dynastic wealth concentrates power into the hands of fewer and fewer people, who can choose what nonprofits and charities to support and which politicians to bankroll. This gives an unelected elite enormous sway over both our economy and our democracy.

If this keeps up, we’ll come to resemble the kind of dynasties common to European aristocracies in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.

Dynastic wealth makes a mockery of the idea that America is a meritocracy, where anyone can make it on the basis of their own efforts. It also runs counter to the basic economic ideas that people earn what they’re worth in the market, and that economic gains should go to those who deserve them.

Finally, wealth concentration magnifies gender and race disparities because women and people of color tend to make  less, save less, and inherit less.

The typical single woman owns only 32 cents of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by a man. The pandemic likely increased this gap.

The racial wealth gap is even starker. The typical Black household owns just 13 cents of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by the typical white household. The pandemic likely increased this gap, too.

In all these ways, dynastic wealth creates a self-perpetuating aristocracy that runs counter to the ideals we claim to live by.

Lesson: Dynastic wealth creates a self-perpetuating aristocracy.



How America dealt with wealth inequality during the First Gilded Age

The last time America faced anything comparable to the concentration of wealth we face today was at the turn of the 20th century. That was when President Teddy Roosevelt warned that “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power” could destroy American democracy.

Roosevelt’s answer was to tax wealth. Congress enacted two kinds of wealth taxes. The first, in 1916, was the estate tax — a tax on the wealth someone has accumulated during their lifetime, paid by the heirs who inherit that wealth.

The second tax on wealth, enacted in 1922, was a capital gains tax — a tax on the increased value of assets, paid when those assets are sold.

Lesson: The estate tax and the capital gains tax were created to curb wealth concentration.

But both of these wealth taxes have shrunk since then, or become so riddled with loopholes that they haven’t been able to prevent a new American aristocracy from emerging.

The Trump Republican tax cut enabled individuals to exclude $11.18 million from their estate taxes. That means one couple can pass on more than $22 million to their kids tax-free. Not to mention the very rich often find ways around this tax entirely. As Trump’s former White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn put it, “only morons pay the estate tax.”

What about capital gains on the soaring values of wealthy people’s stocks, bonds, mansions, and works of art? Here, the biggest loophole is something called the “stepped-up basis.” If the wealthy hold on to these assets until they die, their heirs inherit them without paying any capital gains taxes whatsoever. All the increased value of those assets is simply erased, for tax purposes. This loophole saves heirs an estimated $40 billion a year.

This means that huge accumulations of wealth in the hands of a relatively few households can be passed from generation to generation untaxed — growing along the way — generating comfortable incomes for rich descendants who will never have to work a day of their lives. That’s the dynastic class we’re creating right now.

Lesson: The estate tax and the capital gains tax have been gutted.

Why have these two wealth taxes eroded? Because, as America’s wealth has concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the wealthy have more capacity to donate to political campaigns and public relations — and they’ve used that political power to reduce their taxes. It’s exactly what Teddy Roosevelt feared so many years ago.

How to reduce the wealth gap

So what do we do? Follow the wisdom of Teddy Roosevelt and tax great accumulations of wealth.

The ultra-rich have benefited from the American system — from laws that protect their wealth, and our economy that enabled them to build their fortunes in the first place. They should pay their fair share.

The majority of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, believe the ultra rich should pay higher taxes. There are many ways to make them do so: closing the stepped up basis loophole, raising the capital gains tax, and fully funding the Internal Revenue Service so it can properly audit the wealthiest taxpayers, for starters.

Beyond those fixes, we need a new wealth tax: a tax of just 2 percent a year on wealth in excess of $1 million. That’s hardly a drop in the bucket for centi-billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, but would generate plenty of revenue to invest in healthcare and education so that millions of Americans have a fair shot at making it.

One of the most important things you as an individual can do is take the time to understand the realities of wealth inequality in America and how the system has become rigged in favor of those at the top — and demand your political representatives take action to unrig it.

Community Land Trusts, Then And Now

A community land trust (CLT) is a dynamic model of affordable housing and community development that has taken many different forms over the years. What is typical of nearly every CLT, however, is a nonprofit corporation that does community-led development on community-owned land. Importantly, whatever is built on that land, especially housing produced with the assistance of private donations or public subsidies, is kept permanently affordable for people of modest means.


Origins and Growth of the Community Land Trust

Fifty years ago, African-Americans fighting for political and economic equality in the South established New Communities Inc., now viewed as having been the first CLT in the United States. Among its founders were Freedom Riders, voting rights activists from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, leaders of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and members of the Albany Movement who had led the struggle to overturn racial apartheid in southwest Georgia.

These Civil Rights activists regarded the protests they were organizing against Jim Crow and voter suppression as being the first step in a larger campaign. As Gandhi had described his own campaign against British rule in India, it was important for a “protest movement” to be complemented by a “constructive movement” if the gains of political struggle were to be consolidated. New Communities represented a collective, “constructive” effort to extend the struggle for political rights into the realm of economic rights and residential security.

Founded in 1969, New Communities Inc. acquired nearly 6,000 acres of farmland and forests near Albany, Georgia the following year – at the time, the largest landholding by African-Americans in the United States. They conceived of a new way of owning and developing this rural acreage. Drawing upon examples of planned settlements on community-owned land in other countries – including the Garden Cities in England, Gramdan villages in India, ejidos in Mexico, moshavim in Israel, and Ujamaa Vijijini in Tanzania – the founders of New Communities proposed a new model of land tenure for America. They called their experiment a “community land trust.” It had three components:

  • The land was to be collectively owned by a nonprofit corporation – and never resold.
  • The nonprofit landowner (i.e., the CLT) was to be democratically governed by a membership living on and around the land.
  • Houses and other buildings were to be individually owned by families, cooperatives, or small businesses, each owner holding a deed for the structure and a long-term ground lease for the underlying land.

Inspired by New Communities, CLTs began springing up across the country. By the start of the  Millennium, their number had reached one hundred. Significantly, most of them were in urban areas – including the one started by the administration of Mayor Bernie Sanders in Burlington, Vermont. A model seeded in a rural area of southwest Georgia found ready acceptance among residents of urban neighborhoods, cities, and towns. In hot real estate markets, CLTs were organized as a bulwark against the displacement of low-income households. In cold real estate markets, CLTs were organized to assemble vacant land, to rehabilitate dilapidated buildings, and to construct new housing.

This rising generation of urban CLTs applied the model in novel ways. Like their rural counterparts, many focused on developing single-family, owner-occupied housing on community-owned land. But urban CLTs were soon branching out to include limited-equity condominiums, limited-equity cooperatives, and multi-family rentals. They also sponsored nonresidential land uses like community gardens, day care centers, community centers, and office space for other nonprofit organizations.

The spread of CLTs into more urban settings, where housing costs tended to increase much faster than household incomes, led CLT advocates in the 1980s to emphasize stewardship as a defining operational feature of the model pioneered at New Communities. A CLT would not only be the owner and lessor of lands scattered throughout a neighborhood, city, or town; it would also be the watchful steward of affordable housing and other buildings erected on its land.

What this meant in practice, then and now, is that a CLT stands behind the housing (and other buildings) it has delivered into the hands of people of modest means. It is committed to preserving the affordability of that housing; promoting the sound upkeep of that housing; and preventing foreclosures, evictions, and other threats to a homeowner’s or renter’s security of tenure. This three-fold commitment to affordability, quality, and security is long-lasting. As the former director of a CLT in Albuquerque once put it: “We are the developer that doesn’t go away.”


A Community Land Trust for Burlington, Vermont

The Burlington Community Land Trust, today named the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), was started in 1984 with a substantial grant and technical assistance from the City of Burlington. It was the first CLT in the United States to be initiated by a municipality. It was also the first to be deeply embedded in municipal policy as a priority recipient of public funding for the production and preservation of affordable housing.

Bernie Sanders was in his second term as the mayor of Vermont’s largest city when members of his administration pitched a new idea for tackling the city’s chronic shortage of affordable housing. Progressives in city government had already moved aggressively to revitalize Burlington’s public housing. They had enacted ordinances protecting tenants against racial discrimination, excessive security deposits, and condominium conversions. They had begun organizing to save the largest subsidized rental project in the state, Northgate Apartments. What Burlington lacked, however, was a nonprofit organization that could partner with the municipality to expand homeownership for working people who were being priced out of the city’s overheated real estate market.

The CLT’s potential for bringing homeownership within the reach of low-income and moderate-income families appealed to Mayor Sanders. He also liked the idea that a CLT’s land would be forever removed from the marketplace, owned and managed as a community asset. And he liked the organizational structure adopted by most CLTs, one that featured a broad-based membership and a three-part board, representing a diversity of community interests.

He initially worried, however, that preserving affordability might come at the expense of the opportunity for low-income homeowners to build a financial nest egg for the future. But he was persuaded by his allies on the City Council and by his own staff in City Hall that the proposed CLT would truly benefit “the little guy.” Homeowners would, in fact, be able to earn a fair return on their investment when reselling CLT homes, even as the price of those homes was kept affordable for the next round of low-income homebuyers. He became a vocal champion of CLTs and a forceful advocate for the fiscally responsible policy of retaining the affordability of housing assisted with public dollars. When later elected to Congress, he inserted a definition of the “community land trust” into federal law that made CLTs eligible for funding from a variety of federal programs.

Today, the Champlain Housing Trust has grown to become the largest CLT in the United States with over 3000 units of housing. This portfolio includes houses, condominiums, cooperatives, multi-family rentals, supportive housing for persons with special needs, and short-term housing for the homeless. CHT also owns and operates over 160,000 square feet of nonresidential space, including a pocket park, a food shelf, a multi-generational center, and a former elementary school, now converted into a neighborhood center for sports, cultural activities, and social services. All of this housing, as well as all of CHT’s nonresidential buildings, will remain accessible to people of modest means – forever.

Burlington’s community land trust has received a number of national and international awards for its trailblazing work. One of the most prestigious was the United Nations World Habitat Award, received by the Champlain Housing Trust in 2008 for “exemplary local efforts to improve housing and services for low-income people in the community.” The following year, because of winning that Award, CHT hosted an “international study visit” for participants from thirteen countries. This peer-to-peer exchange helped to hasten the global dissemination of the CLT model, when several participants returned home after seeing what CHT had accomplished and started CLTs of their own.


The City-CLT Partnership

Many cities today where the most productive CLTs are to be found have followed the Burlington blueprint. City officials have made permanent affordability a priority condition for investing public dollars or using public powers to subsidize housing for low-income or moderate-income households. Then, recognizing a CLT’s particular ability to lock those subsidies in place, thereby ensuring that publicly assisted homes will remain affordable year after year, those cities have made CLTs a priority recipient of municipal largess.

As in Burlington, cities have supported CLT development in a variety of ways. They have provided project funding to expand the CLT’s holdings, as well as operational funding to support the CLT’s stewardship of land and housing. They have transferred publicly owned lands to a CLT, as is currently happening in Houston, Texas where a municipal land bank is partnering with a CLT to rebuild an African-American neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Other cities have used municipal mandates like inclusionary zoning or municipal incentives like density bonuses, parking waivers, tax abatements, and targeted disbursements from municipal (or state) housing trust funds to move affordably priced housing produced by private developers into the hands of a local CLT for safekeeping.

What all of these places have in common are farsighted policymakers who have come to realize that the best way to make progress in solving the many housing problems that are theirs is to invest in homes that last. By partnering with a CLT, a city commits itself to protecting forever the affordability, quality, and security of whatever housing the municipality itself has helped to create. This is a policy both fiscally conservative and politically progressive, a hallmark of many of the policies, programs, and partnerships brought into being when Bernie Sanders was Burlington’s mayor.


Community Land Trusts Go Global

CLTs have continued to proliferate and to spread across the United States, currently numbering close to 300. There are sometimes multiple CLTs operating within the same city, as is the case in Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, and Philadelphia, where separate CLTs serve different neighborhoods. By contrast, there are cities like Atlanta, Denver, Durham, Houston, Minneapolis, and Oakland that have one or two CLTs serving a large metropolitan area. CLTs are also found in smaller cities, college towns, coastal islands, and inner-ring suburbs.

Over the last decade, the number of CLTs taking root outside the USA has also grown. There are now robust community land trust movements in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. Interest has also been rising in Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, and Spain.

Most CLT development to date has occurred in the Global North, but seeds for new CLTs are now being scattered across the Global South as well. The Caño Martín Peña Community Land Trust in Puerto Rico has led the way, demonstrating how a CLT can be used to secure the homes of hundreds of families residing in seven informal settlements in San Juan. This has attracted the attention of communities struggling with similar issues of land and housing insecurity throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, ranging from urban residents of Brazil’s favelas to indigenous peoples in remote, rural regions. Activists in Asia and Africa have taken note, as well, weighing whether a CLT might be used to promote equitable and sustainable development in their own communities.

The United Nations has estimated that, throughout the world, over a billion people are currently living in informal settlements or using lands for homesteading, grazing, or farming without holding formal title to them. They are at constant risk of being uprooted from lands they have occupied for many years. Within such areas, some urban and some rural, the CLT may find fertile ground for future growth.




Community Land Trusts: Features and Rationale

Can this innovative housing model help solve California’s affordable housing crisis?

Axel-Lute, Miriam. 2021.  Understanding community land trustsShelterforce (July 12).

Davis, John Emmeus. 2020. In land we trust: key features and common variations of community land trusts in the United States. Chapter 1 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.

Common ground: Community-owned land as a platform for equitable and sustainable development. University of San Francisco Law Journal 51 (issue 1).

Grounded Solutions Network. 2019. Community Land Trusts Explained.

King, Steve. 2020. Making the case for CLTs in all markets, even cold ones. Chapter 4 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.


Origins of the Modern Community Land Trust

Arc of Justice: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Beloved Community. Documentary film co-produced by Helen Cohen, Mark Lipman, and John Davis.

Davis, John Emmeus. 2010. Origins and evolution of the community land trust in the United States. The community land trust reader. John Emmeus Davis (ed.). Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Lim, Audrea. 2020. We shall not be moved. Collective ownership gives power back to poor farmers. Harper’s Magazine(July).

Roots & Branches: A Gardener’s Guide to the Origins and Evolution of the Community Land Trust.


Burlington Community Land Trust/Champlain Housing Trust

Axel-Lute, Miriam and Jake Blumgart. 2021. Champlain Housing Trust: breadth and depth, how the largest community land trust in the U.S. scaled upShelterforce (July 19).

Blumgart, Jake. 2016. How Bernie Sanders made Burlington affordableSlate (January 19).

Davis, John Emmeus and Alice Stokes. 2009. Lands in trust, homes that last: a performance evaluation of the Champlain Housing Trust. Burlington, VT: Champlain Housing Trust.

Building the progressive city: third sector housing in Burlington. The affordable city: Toward a third sector housing policy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Sanders, Bernie. 2012. Acceptance speech on receiving the Swann-Matthei Award at the National Community Land Trust Conference, hosted by the National CLT Network and the Champlain Housing Trust.

Torpy, Brenda. 2020. The best things in life are perpetually affordable: the story of the Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont. Chapter 18 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.


Caño Martín Peña Community Land Trust

Algoed, Line, María E. Hernández-Torrales, Lyvia Rodriguez Del Valle, and Karla Torres Sueiro. 2020. Seeding the CLT in Latin America and the Caribbean: origins, achievements, and the proof-of-concept example of the Caño Martin Pena CLT. Chapter 11 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.

Leon, Hortense. 2019. Community land trusts in the age of climate changeShelterforce.

World Habitat. 2015. Press release and 7-minute video announcing the Caño Martín Peña Community Land Trust as winner of the 2015 World Habitat Award.

Beyond Burlington: Community Land Trusts in Other U.S. Cities

Abello, Oscar Perry. 2021. An unusual community land trust in Colorado is making its markNext City (August 10).

Axel-Lute, Miriam. 2017.  New York City becomes a hotbed of community land trust innovationShelterforce Weekly, November 7.

Binkovitz, Leah. 2018. In Houston, a radical approach to affordable housing. Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University.

Childers, Linda. 2021. First a park, then a citywide land trust in D.C. Shelterforce. (July 13).

Durham’s community land trust allows generations of families to continue living in their hometownShelterforce. (July 27).

Davis, John Emmeus and Rick Jacobus. 2008. The city-CLT partnership: municipal support for community land trusts.Policy Focus Report. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Pickett, Tony and Emily Thaden. 2020. Combining scale and community control to advance mixed-income neighborhoods. Chapter one in Impactful development and community empowerment: balancing the dual goals of a global CLT movement. J.E. Davis, L. Algoed, and M. E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). [A Common Ground Monograph] Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.

Smith, Harry and Tony Hernandez. 2020. Take a stand, own the land: profile of Dudley Neighbors Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts. Chapter 16 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.


Growth of the International CLT Movement

Bettini, Fabiana. 2017. The rise of community land trusts in Europe. The Urban Media Lab (September 6).

Bunce, Susannah and Joshua Brandt. 2020. Origins and evolution of community land trusts in Canada. Chapter 7 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.

Davis, John Emmeus, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). 2020. On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.

De Pauw, Geert and Joaquin de Santos. 2020. Beyond England: origins and evolution of the CLT movement in Europe. Chapter 9 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.

Hill, Steven, Catherine Harrington, and Tom Archer. 2020. Messy is good: origins and evolution of the CLT movement in England. Chapter 8 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.

Smith, David. 2020. The London Community Land Trust: a story of people, power and perseverance. Chapter 20 in J.E. Davis, Line Algoed, and Maria E. Hernandez-Torrales (eds.). On common ground: international perspectives on the community land trust. Madison, WI: Terra Nostra Press.

Williamson, Theresa D. 2019. The favela community land trust: A sustainable housing model for the global south. Critical care: architecture and urbanism for a broken planet. Angelika Fitz and Elke Krasny (eds.). Cambridge: MIT Press.



Center for Community Land Trust Innovation (RESOURCES)

Equity Trust

Grounded Solutions Network (RESOURCE LIBERARY)

Schumacher Center for a New Economics

Terra Nostra Press