Community Land Trusts in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

Community Land Trusts in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

Source: Grove Park Community Land Trust
Source: Grove Park Community Land Trust

What is a Community Land Trust (CLT).  Community land trusts are community-based organizations established to serve as long-term stewards of land and to protect long term affordability and access to housing and other community uses that are located on that land.  Lands acquired by a community land trust  remain in the CLT’s ownership forever, on behalf of the community it serves. CLT’s balance the needs of individuals to access land and maintain security of tenure with a community’s need to maintain affordability, economic diversity and local access to essential services.

Concerned over a growing shortage of affordably priced housing in a increasing number of neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and other communities throughout Allegheny County a grant was secured by the Allegheny Land Trust from the Heinz Endowments in 2014.  This grant enabled an exploratory committee to be formed and to assess the feasibility of creating and sustaining a regional CLT strategy and to identify the core business planning assumptions the CLT initiative would be established and operated.

The exploratory committee found the following:

  • The CLT will only operate in neighborhoods and communities that welcome and support its presence.
  • The committee found that a land trust is needed because there is no entity currently operating in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and the service areas will be the greater Pittsburgh Area and all of Allegheny County with priority given to the urban core.
  • The CLT will be a new non-profit corporation with it’s own board of directors and a mission that will qualify for a charitable 501 (c)(3) organization
  • The CLT will mirror a board structure characteristic of other community land trusts around the country
    • Including 1/3 of the seats reserved for direct beneficiaries of CLT activities
    • 1/3 seats will be for representatives or neighborhoods based in the designated areas
    • 1/3 of the seats will be reserved for persons who bring expertise and perspective to the CLT
  • The exploratory committee concluded that a regional CLT would serve the communities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County well and if funding becomes available, then a regional CLT should be pursued.