Impactful Development and Community Empowerment: Balancing the Dual Goals of a Global CLT Movement

Impactful Development and Community Empowerment: Balancing the Dual Goals of a Global CLT Movement

Impactful Development and Community Empowerment: Balancing the Dual Goals of a Global CLT Movement

Impactful Development and Community Empowerment: Balancing the Dual Goals of a Global CLT Movement


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As community land trusts (CLTs) have grown in number and spread around the world, the model itself has changed. There are now many variations of what is sometimes known as the "classic" CLT. What has not changed, however, is the dynamic tension between impactful development and community empowerment that was baked into the structure and purpose of the CLT from the very beginning.

Every community land trust attempts to gain control over enough land, housing, and other land-based assets to make a difference in the lives of low-income and moderate-income people. At the same time as it is expanding its portfolio of real estate, a CLT is also dedicated to expanding and engaging its social base--continuously organizing, informing, and involving members of its chosen community in guiding and governing the CLT itself. Ownership and empowerment go hand-in-hand.

These dual goals are often seen as incompatible within the larger field of community development. Even within the smaller world of CLTs, there is an ongoing debate as to whether there exists an inevitable tradeoff between going to scale versus ceding control to the community served by a CLT.

That debate is the focus of the present monograph. Although several contributors take one side or the other, most portray the CLT as occupying a rhetorical and practical middle ground between impact and empowerment. They provide examples of successful CLTs in which involving residents in guiding and governing the organization has been the basis for increasing a CLT's holdings of land and housing, rather than being a barrier to growth. In these organizations, the dual goals of a CLT are reconciled and brought skillfully, sustainably into balance.

All of the chapters in the present monograph, except for the opening essay by Emily Thaden and Tony Pickett, were selected from On Common Ground: International Perspectives on the Community Land Trust. This earlier collection of twenty-six original essays was published by Terra Nostra Press in June 2020.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781734403091
Publisher: Terra Nostra Press
Publication date: 02/16/2021
Series: Common Ground Monographs
Pages: 134
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.29(d)

About the Author

John Emmeus Davis is a founding partner of Burlington Associates in Community Development, a national consulting cooperative in the USA. He holds an MS and PhD from Cornell University and has taught housing policy and neighborhood planning at New Hampshire College, the University of Vermont, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served for ten years as the city's housing director in Burlington, Vermont under Mayors Bernie Sanders and Peter Clavelle. Community land trusts (CLTs) have been a prominent part of his professional practice and scholarly writing for 40 years. In addition to publishing a number of books and articles about CLTs, he was a co-producer for the documentary film, Arc of Justice. He is a co-director of the Center for CLT Innovation. (See also:

Line Algoed is a PhD researcher at Cosmopolis, Center for Urban Research at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels and a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. She works with the Caño Martín Peña CLT in Puerto Rico on international exchanges among communities involved in land struggles. She is also an Associate at the Center for CLT Innovation. Previously, Line was a World Habitat Awards Program Manager at BSHF (now World Habitat). She holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Leiden and an MA in Sociology from the London School of Economics.

María E. Hernández-Torrales holds an LLM in environmental law from the Vermont Law School and an MA in Business Education from New York University. She studied for her undergraduate and Juris Doctor degrees at the University of Puerto Rico. Since 2005 she has been doing pro bono legal work for the Proyecto ENLACE and for the Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña. Since 2008, Hernández-Torrales has worked as an attorney and clinical professor at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law where she teaches the Community Economic Development Clinic.
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