What is a Community Land Trust

What is a Community Land Trust? How Does it Work?

A land trust is a non-profit membership organization that owns and holds land “in trust” for the benefit of the community in order to preserve the affordability of housing on the land permanently. A community land trust separates the ownership of buildings from the ownership of the land underneath those buildings. Sawmill Community Land Trust (SCLT) homeowners own their homes, but the community through the land trust, retains ownership of the land. Homeowners lease the land from SCLT for a nominal, monthly fee through a renewable 99-year ground lease. As a condition of the ground lease, homeowners agree to certain resale restrictions on their homes in order to protect its ongoing affordability and to preserve it as an affordable housing opportunity for future buyers. The structure of homeownership on a community land trust is a little different, but SCLT homeowners enjoy the same essential benefits of homeownership.

What Makes Sawmill Community Land Trust Different?

Sawmill Community Land Trust uses an innovative approach to everything it undertakes. Where most community land trusts have their affordable homes sprinkled throughout a community, SCLT is one of the largest continuous community land trusts in the United States; having reclaimed 34 acres of abandoned industrial sites for community-driven affordable housing and economic development activities. Two types of affordable housing are offered through SCLT (another thing that makes us different): ownership and rental. Where most community land trusts only offer homes for sale, we have built three affordable apartment complexes, including one especially for seniors. The organization has implemented a publicly-supported master plan to develop a new neighborhood that fits seamlessly into the existing area. It includes an award-winning plaza, playgrounds and community gardens. Not to rest on its success, Sawmill Community Land Trust is looking to the future, implementing economic development activities that will benefit the neighborhood through jobs and services. Finally, SCLT is launching efforts outside its original project area, working with other neighborhood partners to develop permanently affordable housing.

Owning a Home on Sawmill Community Land Trust

When you purchase a home on Sawmill Community Land Trust's flagship development, Arbolera de Vida, you become part of a community. It also means that you will have a low-cost monthly land lease and homeowner association fee. Currently, this fee is $50/month and it is divided between the Sawmill Community Land Trust (land lease fee) and Arbolera de Vida (homeowner association fee). As a homeowner, you automatically become a voting leaseholder member of the land trust and are encouraged to participate in the organization's decision-making. In addition, the portion of the monthly fee dedicated to the homeowner's association ensures the maintenance of the development's park, playground and public spaces. The Arbolera de Vida Homeowner's Association is also tasked with ensuring homes retain their design standards and value through agreed-upon improvements overseen by the association's Design Review Committee. Homeowners can rest assured that the land trust is in it for the long haul, as each homeowner has a 99-year renewable land lease. They can also take comfort in knowing the neighborhood will remain inviting and attractive and that the homes will retain their value through good design and regular maintenance. It's a low-cost way to ensure that a great neighborhood stays that way!