A global effort led by the International Center for Community Land Trusts

About Community Land Trusts

Understanding Community Land Trusts (CLTs)

At the core of every community is the pursuit of well-being, stability, and a sense of belonging. Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are non-profit organizations that help cultivate environments where these values can flourish, holding land for the collective benefit of a place-based community. A CLT acts as a guardian of crucial assets—such as affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, and commercial spaces—ensuring these remain accessible and supportive of the community’s long-term needs.

A Brief History of the CLT Movement

Born out of the aspirations for social justice and equity from the US Civil Rights Movement and influenced by a global mosaic of land reform efforts, the Community Land Trust movement took its first steps with the founding of New Communities Inc. in Georgia in 1969. Over the decades, CLTs have grown from a handful of rural endeavors to now over 600 CLTs worldwide. This growth underscores the adaptability of CLTs to various local contexts and highlights its potential to transform community ownership, affordable housing, environmental stewardship, and social equity.

As the roots and branches of the CLT movement spread globally, we recognize that many of the seeds that fertilized the movement originate from the ethics and practices of land stewardship of peoples from the Global South. We also recognize that many of these seeds sprouted in post-colonial 20th-century movements around land use reform, such as the Gramdan movement in India, the ejido practice in Mexico, and the concept of Ujamaa Vijijini in Tanzania. These movements drew their inspiration from historic, pre-colonial forms of land ownership and use which were communal and which emphasized the inter-generational uses of land. These seeds came together in the experiments of early CLT pioneers, and it is to this diverse lineage that the contemporary CLT movement owes its existence. 

As we enter a precarious moment in history, filled with vast social, economic, and ecological challenges, the CLT movement once again looks to communities and practitioners from around the world for inspiration. CLTs in a vast diversity of places, from Puerto Rico to Belgium and Australia, are experimenting with new ways of combining the traditional mission of CLTs in securing tenure and housing affordability with eco-system restoration, ecologically resilient development, community agriculture, environmental justice, and economic development. Simultaneously, we increasingly see “informal” communities in the Global South looking to the CLT model as a solution for tenure insecurity, an issue that is widespread in these urban spaces.

Our Shared Vision

A common theme among the seeds that fertilized the global CLT movement is that land is a sacred trust, one that should be held in stewardship for the entire community, present and future. As a movement, we recognize that securing tenure and affordable housing for members is only the beginning and that the collective ownership of land is the foundation for ensuring the livelihoods and well-being of our communities.


At the core of World CLT Day lies a dual mission: to celebrate our shared accomplishments and to cultivate a space for learning, connecting, and inspiring action. This collection of resources stands as a curated hub, crafted to support the global CLT movement and build stronger, more resilient communities.

National and Regional CLT Networks

Selected Resources from the International Center for CLTs