Creating and Supporting Community Land Trusts

As part of the City Council-funded Community Land Trust Initiative, TakeRoot’s Equitable Neighborhoods team provides legal and technical support to community land trusts (CLTs) and grassroots organizations developing new and existing CLTs in order to preserve long-term affordability and economic investment in their communities. Our clients include the East Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust and the Bronx Community Land Trust

TakeRoot also advocates for policies that will support CLTs focused on creating and preserving deeply affordable housing citywide as a member of the New York City Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI) and a member of and counsel to the Abolish the Tax Lien Sale Coalition

Read NYCCLI’s 2022 policy priorities.

Click to read about the current policy campaign to replace the NYC lien sale.

Selected Press

The Baffler: Lien on Me |Feb. 10, 2022

LISC: Real Power is in the Land: Community Land Trusts Past, Present, and Future | Aug. 11, 2021

The New York Times: New York Is Back. Now It Has a Second Chance | June 8, 2021

New York YIMBY: El Barrio Community Land Trust To Renovate 4 City-Owned Buildings To Affordable Housing In Harlem | March 5, 2021

Patch: Harlem Land Trust Secures Historic Deal For Affordable Housing | Nov. 30, 2020

Curbed: Community land trusts score crucial funds in city budget | June 18, 2019

Next City: Momentum for NYC Community Land Trusts Gets $1.65M Boost | July 26, 2017


Testimony to the NYC Council Committee on Finance on FY24 Budget (3/6/2023): The budget must include capital funding commitments to support CLT-driven revitalization of buildings that fell into disrepair while under City ownership like the Tenant Interim Lease buildings recently-acquired by our clients at the East Harlem El Barrio Community Land Trust and the Kingsborough Armory, for which a community visioning process is now underway. This Council has made great strides towards ensuring that such public properties are disposed of to CLTs and other not-for-profits so that they can be used for the public good, but without capital commitments to support those new owners as they work to reverse decades of disinvestment, such dispositions are at best a gesture and at worst the offloading of the City’s problems onto community-based organizations.

Testimony in Support of the Community Land Act the City Council Housing and Buildings Committee Oversight Hearing on Social Housing (Feb. 23, 2023): “Collective land ownership through CLTs is one of the most effective ways to achieve these public policy objectives. We see clearly in our work that the tripartite nonprofit structure of CLT governance creates durable permanent stewardship infrastructure with internal checks and balances designed to foreclose opportunities for self-dealing and to expand opportunities for community participation over time. We are thrilled to be working with this Council and our partners to build social housing infrastructure for NYC through the CLT model. Passage of the Community Land Act will help our organizations take land off the speculative market and provide the deeply affordable housing and other resources our communities need, building on the investments in CLTs the City Council has made through the City Council Initiative.”

Testimony on Intro 1613, A Bill in Relation to Community Land Trusts in the Third Party Transfer Program (Nov. 9, 2021): “Intro. 1613-2019 should be amended to reflect that flexibility and diversity of the CLT movement in NYC. The current definition that in the bill is a reference to a portion of the Administrative Code that directs HPD to enter into regulatory agreements with CLTs developing housing. In that context, the limitation that CLTs entering into such agreements be incorporated under the HDFC law: it is a requirement for all HPD regulatory agreement signatories. In the broader context of being able to receive properties in distress for their preservation and development, the limitation is irrational. If included in the final text before the bill is passed, it would be a barrier to the preservation and development of affordable community, commercial and manufacturing spaces using the robust CLT model.”

Testimony before the New York City Council Committee on Land Use Preliminary Budget Hearing for FY 2020 (March 7, 2019): TakeRoot, in partnership with the New Economy Project and the Cooper Square CLT in the Lower East Side, testified to ask the City Council to include funding in the FY 2020 budget for a Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative, of which TakeRoot is a member. You can watch the hearing here; TakeRoot’s testimony begins at 3:26:17. TakeRoot and our partners were successful in securing $870,000 of discretionary funding in the 2020 City budget for the development and expansion of CLTs.

Testimony on Intro 1269, A Bill in Relation to the Creation of Regulatory Agreements with Community Land Trusts (October 19, 2017): TakeRoot spoke in support of this bill as a foundation on which to build a regulatory framework around CLTs. TakeRoot also endorsed suggestions by the New York Community Land Initiative for improving the bill to ensure that CLTs are truly a vehicle for creating and preserving housing for low income families.


Photo: The best-known CLT in New York City is Cooper Square, which holds land on which 22 buildings are located. The buildings themselves are owned by MHAs, which manage the buildings for residential and commercial tenants, and have converted many of the apartments to co-op ownership. This structure has kept rents and co-op fees affordable in the midst of rapid gentrification elsewhere in the Lower East Side.