For a truly affordable home, buy into a community land trust

Original Article from Framework,
Published on May 6, 2019

Community land trust homeowners all seem to tell the same story. But it’s exciting every time you hear it.

It goes like this: Before they bought their home through a community land trust, they struggled with high rents and instability. After, they had a home they could afford, the stability that comes with that, and the freedom to live the lives they envisioned for themselves and their kids.

“It was such a dramatic change for us,” says Bob Robbins, looking back to when he and his family first moved into their home, in 1995.

They’d been living in a terrible apartment in Burlington, VT. As their two kids approached school age, he and his wife desperately wanted to find a better living situation. But rents were “incredibly high,” and on their income, they didn’t stand a chance in the conventional housing market. “We were frozen out,” he says.

Then they heard about their local nonprofit community land trust (CLT). The CLT worked with them until they found the right land trust home. They now owned a house, made affordable because the CLT leased them the land for almost nothing, basically forever.

“After all of the insecurity and the problems we had in the rental unit, all of a sudden, all that went away,” Robbins says. “We had stability and a very affordable mortgage. We were not only able to pay our bills but put away money for the kids’ college and some money towards our retirement.”

Almost 25 years later, the benefits are even more clear. “That whole period of life was so much richer,” he says, “because we had access to all those resources that we wouldn’t have had if we were paying high rents or scrimping and saving for a down payment for a conventional home.”

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