CLTs and CLBs

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Louise C

Sep 30, 2010, 8:09:16 PM9/30/10
to Australian CLT Network
Hello Shann

While I don't mind you posting about your CLB model here, it is
important to point out the differences between your CLB model and the
CLT model this group was set up to discuss and explore.

Your CLB model is a collectivised land ownership model in which
residents access land value via ownership of shares and which has no
non-resident members, so is more in line with intentional community
models or large cooperatives. The CLB model requires that funds be
borrowed to buy land on the basis of an assumed increase in land
value. The core idea of stewarding non-market land for affordable
housing which underpins the CLT model is absent in the CLB model,
which is based on a core idea of collectivised returns on land.

In contrast, CLTs do not access land value and do allow non-residents
to be voting members and directors, to balance the needs and
intentions of the residents with those of the broader community and
the public at large. This is especially important if public or other
granted monies and/or lands have been used to establish the
organisation. By and large CLTs do not borrow funds and do not access
the value of their land. Overwhelmingly CLTs answer to a broad public
as well as to their residents.

While Bob Swann may have began with a CLB-type model known as a land
trust, the model as developed by Swann and Slater King was more
successful in the US once it was refined into the CLT model as now
broadly understood in the US. This was mainly because it was felt that
broader community input and involvement was important when public or
other granted lands were being used, and to get more integrated,
transparent and inclusive development. It also became clear that
organisations which borrowed funds often struggled to repay these,
especially if trying to deliver affordable housing.

These are quite different models and I think that advertising CLBs as
"supercharged" CLTs is disingenuous, as they are predicated on quite
different ownership and financial models. If the conflation of the two
models continues, I will remove this topic from the web group.

We have had this discussion before and I still think you need to be
clear about the differences between these models.


Karyn Maher

Oct 3, 2010, 8:34:36 PM10/3/10
Thanks for bringing up this distinction, Louise.  

Starting from a point of what it is that we are trying to achieve through promotion of CLTs, a model that enables broader visions than residents in the property is important.

At Bellbunya Sustainable Community, we established a land trust through a NFP that holds title to the land, and is managed by a board comprising minimum 51% of builder stakeholders; with anyone with large sums invested in the project having a right to be on the board; but having objectives and members and managers beyond the resident community.  We are currently in the process of DGR status as a Registered Environmental Organisation.  The combination of these things ensure that the focus of the community remains altruistic, and the value of the land is retained by the broader community and is used in a way that is beneficial for the whole community.

However, within the model there is also scope for easy transferability of cabins, and of increase in value enabling builders to move into a changing marketplace; that is we've made it easy for builders to move on when they feel that their time in the community is done.

Effectively, our model is a CLT with some components of the CLB that meet our practical needs to obtain finance and give builders and investors financial security.

Warm regards

Karyn Maher
Association for Sustainable Communities Inc
Bellbunya Sustainable Community and Eco-Conference Centre
114 Browns Road
Belli Park Q 4562
Phone 07 5447 0181 / 07 5315 5041

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Louise C

Oct 11, 2010, 10:30:23 PM10/11/10
to Australian CLT Network
Hi Karen

Thanks for outlining the land trust model you have developed at
Bellbunya and congratulations on getting your project up and running.
It is very much in line with the land trust model that pre-dated the
CLT model and which is more in line with intentional communities. I
assume Bellbunya is an intentional community from your website – is
this accurate? I couldn't see anything about housing on the website
though - do you provide affordable housing? If so, how are properties
valued and/or kept affordable? I am curious about the "easy
transferability of cabins" as this would imply housing, or are these
investment properties? If you are providing homeownership, I know that
many of the groups trying to start CLTs would be keen for you to share
your mechanism for doing so.

Also, are individuals without the financial capacity to invest allowed
membership on the Board? The inclusion of non-resident members in the
Board is a good start and DGR status will help. However, many
communities in the USA found that without independent Directors (ie.,
individuals without any financial interest in the organisation
whatsoever), the communities didn't always remain altruistic or
provide affordability, which is what triggered the formation of the
CLT model through the establishment of the three-part Board structure
and a stated focus on affordability. So rather than interests other
than residents' being important to what the promotion of what CLTs are
trying to achieve, the tripartite Board and delivery of affordable
housing are actually the core features of CLTs as legally defined in
the USA and as now being discussed here as a mechanism for affordable
housing and community development. It is also one of the first motions
that separated CLTs from intentional communities, although intentional
communities can be, have been and still are developed on CLT lands as
part of a broader portfolio of affordable housing. Troy Gardens in
Madison, Wisconsin is a great example developed by the Madison Area
Community Land Trust. Also, Champlain Housing Trust oversees the
affordability and resale criteria of a few units within an otherwise
market-rate cohousing development in Burlington, Vermont, as part of
its overall portfolio of over 2,000 affordable units and houses. I
seem to remember being told that the Ithaca ecovillage in upstate New
York is on a CLT but can't seem to find details on their website. CLTs
also often underlie cooperatives which are perhaps a less intensive
form of intentional community that can mix incomes and cover very low
to market-rate prices.

So it is good to see exploration of different forms of tenure here in
Australia; it will be great to see moves being made toward the full
implementation of the CLT model for affordable housing and community
development. The combination of public and private investment and
creating returns on that investment without compromising affordability
are core challenges for CLTs. Champlain Housing Trust have managed
this, to the extent that they are an investment vehicle for the City
of Burlington's superannuation and provide modest returns to
homeowners at the time of sale, while also increasing the
affordability of their housing over time. They also have many
community and commercial facilities spread over their portfolio, which
is spread throughout three counties. Many CLTs in the USA are engaging
with the core concerns of intentional communities such as ecovillages
and cohousing, which is a promising development as it may help counter
the tendency of intentional communities to become unaffordable – and
hence often socially and economically homogeneous – when fully exposed
to the economic imperatives of private market development.

kind regards
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