PNLT at the national CLT conference in Cleveland

Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) attended the US National CLT conference in last April. The conference is annually held and organized by the US Community Land Trust Network. This year, the conference was held in Cleveland, OH. It convened hundreds of CLT practitioners, researchers, and groups from elsewhere – mainly from US but also from Europe and Canada! – to share the experiences and lessons from their works.

Developing a CLT is a complex endeavor as it entails real estate (housing) development, community organizing, effective board development, partnership building, and financing strategies for project and organizational sustainability…! For PNLT, this conference was an amazing opportunity to learn such a wide range of aspects on the CLT development. Most of the conference session materials are available for download from here.

More importantly, the conference enabled us to have face-to-face dialogues with CLT practitioners. It promoted peer-to-peer support and learning about challenges and lessons that are not necessarily captured in reports, organizational documents and journal articles, ones that are not yet translated into “models” or “good practices”. This is of such crucial importance for CLTs like us that are interested in applying the CLT model beyond its conventional homeownership model.

The CLT model is often employed to develop and provide affordable homeownership for low-income households. Currently, however, more CLTs are becoming interested in applying the CLT not only to other forms of housing – rental housing, supportive housing, limited equity cooperative housing – but also to urban agriculture, community space, and community economic development (supporting local-serving businesses and social enterprises).

PNLT is also aiming for this diversified approach that helps facilitate a comprehensive community development. Providing and preserving affordable housing is without doubt an essential ingredient. Equally important is ensuring land access for community food security initiatives, social enterprises, and other community social infrastructures. Such a holistic perspective also sheds light on issues of land and its control.

It has not been an easy task for us to delineate a contour of how to realize this vision. There are not many available resources on CLT’s rental housing, commercial development, and urban agriculture with a few exceptions (e.g. rental housing and non-residential). It may be at the early stage of model building? This national conference allowed us to learn firsthand experiences from the CLTs that are already initiating some of these works.

We will report back on what we learned from the conference through this website as well as newsletter. Some of the topics are:

  • International experience: What explains such a rapid growth of CLTs in UK?
  • A diversified application of the CLT model other than home ownership model (rental housing, limited equity co-op, commercial space, and urban agriculture)
  • Urban context matters: Land acquisition strategies for urban CLTs