History of the Community Land Trust Movement

International Precursors

The community land trust draws heavily from concepts and experiments with ground leasing from outside the United States. These “imported seeds” directly influenced the thinking and tinkering of Americans who created precursors and prototypes that laid the foundation for the first CLTs.

From Model to Movement

The number, dispersion, and diversity of CLTs began to grow after 1985. Before that time, there were maybe a dozen organizations in the United States that could fairly be called a “community land trust.” By 2010, there were over 200 CLTs, located in 46 different states. 

Domestic Pioneers

Unconventional ideas and intentional communities native to the United States did as much to seed and to shape the modern CLT as ideas imported from abroad.  Even before there was a United States, Native Americans believed that land was a resource that was given by God to all, not “property” to bought and sold.

Propagate the CLT Abroad

American pioneers of the community land trust borrowed their best ideas from the Garden Cities in England, the Gramdan villages in India, and the moshav settlements in Israel. Now CLT pioneers in other countries adding innovations of their own

Seeding the First CLTs

When Bob Swann, Shimon Gottschalk, Erick Hansch, and Ted Webster published The Community Land Trust: A Guide to a New Model for Land Tenure in America, they described the CLT as “a somewhat hypothetical model which as of this writing exists only in the form of various prototypes.”