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Explainer: What is a community land trust?

Fort Worth recently approved the first community land trust in the city’s history. So, what exactly does that mean?

fort-worth-carroll-affordable-housing

In August 2023, the Fort Worth City Council approved an $11 million purchase for 15 acres of the Carroll Park Apartments, previously used for student housing at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Photo courtesy of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Housing affordability is a component of the city’s 2050 Comprehensive Plan, and in initial resident feedback stages of that plan, hundreds of Fort Worthians also singled out housing affordability as a key issue.

Over the past year, the city has taken some steps in that direction — but we need to define a few terms in the process.

The timeline

In June 2023, Fort Worth-based Rainwater Charitable Foundation helped create the Fort Worth Community Land Trust. Then, two months later, the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corp. — essentially the housing development arm of the city — bought 15 acres of Carroll Park Apartments, previously used for housing at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The goal was for that land to be manged by the Fort Worth Community Land Trust, but first that organization needed to be formally designated by the city; that happened last week.

OK, so what is a community land trust?

An organization manages land that can be leased or sold to those with low incomes. Land trust ground leases will typically last 99 years, and — perhaps most importantly — a resale price for a home is negotiated upon purchase. Since the community land trust owns the land, the home can remain affordable for multiple generations.

This is the first-ever community land trust in Fort Worth, although they are common in cities such as Houston and Austin. 200+ units (sale + rent) will ultimately be available on those 15 acres.

Mayor Mattie Parker noted at the time of the 15-acre purchase that housing is “on the mind of every Council member,” and Fort Worth has launched other initiatives aimed at affordable housing, as well. The 2026 bond program may also include housing initiatives, which would be another first for the city.

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