Building community wealth through community ownership and control of strategic land assets for development of housing, farms, business and industry

NEWS: Thursday, October 30, 2014, at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission 5th Thursday Dinner for planning board members and other municipal boards, the featured speaker was Bilile Best presenting on ways to use the CLT model as an economic development tool.

NEWS: Thursday, October 23, 2014, Billie Best gave a talk on the relationship between access to land and democracy at Simon’s Rock College of Bard for their Food Studies Program.

NEWS: The Schumacher Center for a New Economics has appointed Billie Best as Community Land Trust Program Director to develop an education and outreach program for the Berkshires that can be a model for communities across the country. As President of the Board of Trustees for the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, Best already leads the stewardship of 49 acres of community-owned land leased to 24 households, includingForest Row, an 18 home development in Great Barrington, and Indian Line Farm, the first community-supported-agriculture farm in the U.S.

The Schumacher Center is a national educational nonprofit advocating for a more equitable and sustainable economy, and developing guiding principles for model economic programs. The Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires puts those principles into practice by owning and managing land on behalf of the community for housing, farms and business. The Community Land Trust Program is a multi-year grassroots organizing initiative promoting the CLT model through civic engagement, needs assessment, project development and technical support.

“We are putting new economy principles into practice in Western Massachusetts through the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, and in the process building resources to support a national community of practitioners,” said Schumacher Center Executive Director, Susan Witt.

The CLT model encourages community investment in the local economy by building synergy between jobs and housing. When the community owns and controls strategic land assets it can achieve goals like preserving Main Street for locally owned businesses, improving substandard housing, ensuring local farms produce food for local people using good farming practices, establishing sites for community supported industry, and developing strong neighborhoods for fulltime residents with local jobs.

According to Best, who lives and farms in Alford, “I am excited to be working with the towns in the Berkshires to spread the use of the community land trust as a way to build wealth for the whole community. We can leverage community ownership of land to support our workforce and increase upward mobility.”

The program launches October 30th at a dinner for town board members hosted by theBerkshire Regional Planning Commission. For more information contact Billie Best

NEWS: Two new documents which show how CLT works have been posted on the Resources page here. Our form for appraisers of property on CLT land and the letter template for leaseholders intending to sell their property.

NEWS: Three new reports advocate for wider adoption of the community land trust model for sustainable housing development:

This July 2014 report explains how different community land trusts engage their stakeholders: Resident and Community Engagement in Community Land Trusts by Emily Thaden and Jeffrey S. Lowe, © 2014 Lincoln Institute of Land Policy  CLT-engagement-July2014-LIncLandInst

This July 2014 report explains how different community land trusts operate: Achieving Lasting Affordability through Inclusionary Housing by Robert Hickey,  Lisa Sturtevant,  and Emily Thaden © 2014 Lincoln Institute of Land Policy  CLT-inclusion-July2014-LincLandInst

This April 2014 U.S. Housing & Urban Development report explains issues and policies for transit-oriented housing development: Creating Connected Communities: A Guidebook for Improving Transportation Connections for Low- and Moderate-Income Households in Small and Mid-Sized Cities  CLT-Creating_Cnnted_Coms-HUD

NEWS: The handout for our August 10th workshop for the  Summer NOFA Conference provides a summary of how the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires operates: CLT-NOFA-Aug10-2014-handout

NEWS: The “Sustainable Berkshires Report” section on Housing & Neighborhoods adopted by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission March 20, 2014, recommends expanding the community land trust model as a top strategy for creating more affordable housing in Berkshire County. Read it here. Read the Berkshire Trade & Commerce July 2014 article here. Find all eight sections of the Sustainable Berkshires report here.

NEWS: Videos of the Farmland Access Symposium (April 12, 2014) are on Youtube, including Kathy Ruhf‘s keynote, Bridget Spann and Leslie Reed-Evans telling the story of Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation and Caretaker Farm, Jen Salinetti from Woven Roots Farm and Bruce Howden from Howden Farm telling the story of their challenges as farmers, and the service providers panel including Rick Chandler from Mass Dept of Ag Resources APR Program, Kathy Orlando from Sheffield Land Trust, Benneth Phelps from the Carrot Project and Bill Martin from Farm Credit East.

NEWS: Huffington Post article on the growing need for community land trusts to stabilize housing boom and bust cycles, and protect local residents from the price pressure of gentrification: Urbanism at a Crossroads by Aaron Bartley, co-founder of PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing), June 25, 2014.