The Oakland Community Land Trust (CLT):
Inclusive and equitable development, community empowerment,
and neighborhood stability in one time-tested, nationally-proven tool
What is a Community Land Trust (CLT)?
A nonprofit, community-supporting system of land ownership. The CLT owns the lot – the land – a house sits on and leases it to the homeowner, while the house and all property responsibilities belong to the homeowner. The CLT requires that the house be permanently owner-occupied, by present and future homeowners.
Most CLT homes, renovated and sold by OPDC, will be affordable for low- to moderate-income families. Oakland CLT homeowners buy CLT homes and lease the land these houses sit on. The Oakland CLT leases land to homeowners for 99 years (renewable) at a low monthly fee. Owners can maintain and improve their homes. They can leave their home to their children. If a homeowner decides to sell, the Oakland CLT retains an option to repurchase the home to sell to a future low- or moderate-income resident or to assist the homeowner to identify a new income-eligible purchaser. Homeowners share the equity they earn on their homes with future buyers, thus fostering long-term affordability even as surrounding neighborhood property values grow.
CLTs are time-tested, proven tools for neighborhood equity and stability. We in Oakland are learning from established CLTs in cities nationwide –there are over 200 CLTs across the country that are part of a community land trust organization, the Grounded Solutions Network. Here in Pittsburgh, Oakland joins several other neighborhoods launching a CLT to address neighborhood concerns such as affordability. You can learn more at https://groundedsolutions.org/.
About the Oakland CLT
OPDC has been grappling with the challenge that, when we sold affordable homes to families in the past, we did not have a way to prevent eventual conversion to rental. The Oakland CLT is a failsafe solution to this problem with proven success across the country – a legal way to ensure that properties stay affordable and owner-occupied with every sale. It is the market intervention Oakland needs to ensure homes are available for regular homeowners –not just investors. The CLT will create a homeowner market that does not really exist today, and it will help maintain affordable homeownership options for working families.
OPDC will administer the Oakland CLT. A CLT advisory committee is responsible for the stewardship of the CLT and consists of CLT leaseholders, community stakeholders, and OPDC board members.
Our goals are to have 50 CLT properties by 2022, 100 properties long-term, and to increase owner-occupancy to 50% in our target areas. We believe that sustaining a critical mass of homeowners and providing affordable housing is the best thing we can do to preserve Oakland’s quality of life for the long term.
There are currently two houses in the CLT and two homes for sale (see below). OPDC owns or has sales agreements for several other properties in Oakland that we will renovate and sell as part of the CLT. We are actively fundraising for capital and operating funds from Oakland institutions, public agencies, foundations, etc. and we are continuing to reach out to residents to spread the word about the CLT and get feedback.
CLT Homes for Sale
How can I get involved?
OPDC will gladly meet with you and your neighbors to discuss the CLT – its details, benefits, and requirements. If you can organize or host a meeting, let us know. Take the lead, talk to your neighbors: be an ambassador for the Oakland Community Land Trust!
Sign on here to join the campaign for an Oakland Community Land Trust – let our community know that #OaklandMatters and stay up-to-date on the latest CLT news.
Q: What's in it for me as a seller?
A: Many Oakland residents have lived here for decades, taking pride in caring for their homes and enjoying neighborhood friendships. These residents have seen the effects that more rental properties have had on the neighborhood and many want to ensure that their home remains owner-occupied in the future. Furthermore, the CLT provides an option to help elderly residents age-in-place. The CLT can buy your lot for cash now, and you can use that money for home repairs and renovations, or for whatever you please. Then, when you are ready to leave your house, OPDC can buy it, do necessary renovations, and then sell to another family who will love and take care of the home. The land will always be owned by the CLT.
Q: What's in it for me as a buyer?
A: For buyers, the pitch is pretty simple: you get a quality, affordable house in a highly accessible and desirable location, close to Downtown, dozens of bus routes, world-class cultural amenities, and beautiful Schenley Park.
Q: Will OPDC pay me as much for my house as a speculator would?
A: OPDC will make a competitive offer for your home, taking into consideration the home’s condition. Many homeowners find this compelling because they know that their home will be occupied by a homeowner in the future.
Q: I am already renting out an apartment in my own house, where I live. I have a two-unit occupancy permit that allows me to do this. Will the CLT allow me to keep renting the apartment?
A: Yes, the requirement for owner-occupancy can be met in one unit and the other unit rented out as long as both units are in the same property.
Q: I own the house next door to the one I live in, and currently rent it out. Can it be part of the CLT? How would that work?
A: If your long-term goal for this property is that it be a rental unit, unfortunately it would not be eligible to join the CLT. If you consider selling it at some point in the future, please let OPDC know so we can make a competitive offer to purchase it and place it in the CLT.
Q: What about the property tax on the land: do I get any breaks on this?
A: All property taxes will remain the responsibility of the property owner. Allegheny County does not yet have a policy on CLT properties. Some CLT property owners in other cities have had success keeping tax assessments from increasing, given the restrictions on their property. Oakland CLT property owners are encouraged to appeal their Allegheny County tax assessment and OPDC will support you at the hearing.
Q: If OPDC owns the land my house is on, do I have to ask permission to garden, build a fence, or cut down a tree? What about things like sidewalk repairs or issues with underground pipes?
A: As the homeowner, you retain responsibility for all upkeep on your property and control of all decisions about renovations or landscaping.
Q: Can landlords sell their properties to the CLT?
A: Yes. As with any property owner, the CLT will offer a fair, competitive price to the owner.
Q: Does OPDC make money on this program? How does it pay for itself?
A: No, we do not anticipate any profits from the CLT. OPDC is currently raising the funds for the capital and operating costs of the CLT. Any income raised will go directly to program operations and CLT stewardship.
Q: How long is the term of the lease?
A: The lease has a ninety-nine year term and is renewable. A CLT property can also be inherited just like any other house can. If a CLT home is sold, the new homeowner signs a new lease with the CLT.