The Greensboro City Council indicated support for a plan to establish a community land trust at the Thursday, March 16 work session.

A community land trust is a nonprofit organization that retains ownership of land but sells the houses on the land to qualified purchasers.

Since the homeowner purchases the house but not the land, the cost is considerably lower than the market rate.  It was described as another tool in the affordable housing tool kit.

There are currently more than 300 community land trusts in 41 states, Washington, DC, and Puerta Rico.

In North Carolina Asheville, Charlotte, Concord, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham already have community land trusts. The community land trust in Durham is one of the oldest in the country dating back to the 1980s.

In Greensboro the planned community land trust would operate in City Council Districts 1, 2 and 5.

Usually, community land trusts place a cap on resale profits when a homeowner decides to sell, to preserve the affordability of the home.

While the house is purchased the land is leased from the community land trust and there is usually a lease payment that can be as low as $15 a month.

One of the few objections to the community land trust program was made by City Councilmember Sharon Hightower who said, “I don’t like the idea of the lease thing.”

Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann said, “A monthly fee is a way of contributing to the future of the community land trust.”

The Housing and Neighborhood Development Department Director Michelle Kennedy said that currently the program is in the education phase and that there had been a lot of interest shown at community meetings.  She said, “The community is really engaged in the conversation.”

Kennedy also said that the City Council wasn’t being asked to make any decision on the community land trust but that the presentation was simply to get the council up to speed on the program.