Episode 61 – Are Community Land Trusts Transformative?

Community land trusts are proliferating across the globe, promoted as a potential solution to the ever-worsening affordable housing crisis. CLTs provide a mechanism for decommodification, collective ownership, and community control; however, those ideals are hard to operationalize, and many CLTs function more as traditional affordable housing providers than as urban commons. This episode discusses the causes of this tension as well as regional differences and issues of funding and scale framed around the question: are CLTs transformative?

Episode transcript


Mathilde Lind Gustavussen

Mathilde is a PhD candidate in sociology at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research focuses on housing, displacement, and tenant activism in Los Angeles.

Our guests:

Nele Aernouts

Nele is assistant professor of urban design and planning at the Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her research interests lie in the planning, spatial design and governance of social and collective housing initiatives, with a specific focus on their effects on the inclusion of disadvantaged or marginalized groups. Theoretically, her work is informed by debates surrounding participatory planning, housing policy, and the commons: https://www.cosmopolis.be/people/nele-aernouts

Tarcyla Fidalgo

Tarcyla is a lawyer and urban planner. She has a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Her research is focused on land tenure and community development, especially on Community Land Trusts and their potential in the Global South. Currently she coordinates the Favela Community Land Trust project at Catalytic Communities, in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil.
Links: Project website: www.termoterritorialcoletivo.org Personal Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tarcyla-fidalgo-746b9261/

Olivia R. Williams

Olivia is a researcher, writer, advocate, and practitioner working for the decommodification of land and housing. She received a PhD in Geography in 2017 from Florida State University with research on community land trusts (CLTs), and began working at Madison Area Community Land Trust in Madison, Wisconsin as the executive director in 2020. She was also part of a research collaboration with MIT CoLab in developing the 2020 report, A Guide to Transformative Land Strategies. She has published in Urban Geography, Antipode, Housing Studies, Local Economy, and Area, among other academic outlets, as well as non-academic outlets like Jacobin, Shelterforce, and the 2020 book of essays on CLTs, On Common Ground.She also has served in board, staff, and volunteer leadership roles at various cooperative land-and-housing organizations such as Madison Community Cooperative, North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), EcoVillagers Alliance, and Riverwest Investment Cooperative.

The episode was edited by Ross Beveridge.