How Community Land Trusts expose key consensual fictions of urban property

Authors: Joseph Pierce*, University of Oklahoma, Richard Kruger, Clark University, Azadeh Hadizadeh Esfahani, Clark University, Olivia Williams, Independent Scholar, James DeFilippis, Rutgers University, Deborah G Martin, Clark University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: housing, property, land, urban
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Washington 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Community land trusts (“CLTs”) have garnered attention as a novel, non-state organizational mechanism for enabling permanently affordable homeownership. In canonical form, they do this by separating a home from the land upon which it sits, holding the land in trust and selling the home for its value without the land. Additionally, these organizations use ground lease restrictions to constrain the resale process and enforce long-term reproduction of home affordability. In this article, we argue that given the “actually existing” character of CLT practices, the legal vocabulary which CLTs use is not the most directly nor most accurately descriptive. The nature of the present intervention is emphatically not to say that CLTs have somehow acted in bad faith; rather, we identify a specific set of fictions about land and rights encoded into the law regarding real property. Our intervention highlights how the nature of these fictions theoretically constrain the power of canonical community land trusts to transform society, while also forcing some critical reflection on specific financial strategies that CLTs may attempt.

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