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These are questions most commonly asked about our land trust organization. Contact us if your specific inquiry is unanswered. 

What is the Oberlin Community Land Trust (Oberlin CLT)? 

The Oberlin CLT is a nonprofit, membership-based organization that was formed in 2018. Its mission is “to strengthen diversity and grow communities by holding land in trust for permanently affordable, sustainable housing, home ownership, and other community needs.” The community land trust (CLT) model dates to the Civil Rights Movement with the first rural CLT developed in Georgia in 1969. The first urban CLT was formed in Cincinnati in 1981 to address gentrification and displacement

How does a Community Land Trust work?

Housing can be more affordable by taking the land cost out of the purchase price of a home. A qualified low-income homebuyer pays a monthly mortgage payment and a nominal ground lease payment provided by the Oberlin CLT. 

Why was the Oberlin CLT started?  

A study done by the City of Oberlin made it clear there is a lack of affordable housing in Oberlin especially for seniors and young families. The older housing stock is generally in poor condition. Ownership has been impossible for much of the population, demonstrating racial and economic inequalities. 


The Oberlin CLT has 4 key goals: 

  1. Emphasis on Community, promoting models that create strong, lasting communities 

  2. Creating an Equity and Justice model that breaks down equity and gives greater access 

  3. Prioritizing housing solutions for the long term, offering Permanence

  4. Fostering community building by Collaboration among residents, local government and other anchors of the community

Where do the houses and land for the Land Trust come from?


Oberlin CLT hopes to acquire houses and land from a variety of sources. The first house purchased in 2021 was from an auction sale by Lorain County. If not purchased by way of a traditional or sheriff sale, properties can come as gifts from private donors or through an arrangement offering affordable parcels or property by a city or county government. 

Who gets to buy Community Land Trust homes? 

A community land trust’s goal is to make home ownership more affordable to those unlikely to secure ownership on their own. Individuals can qualify by being actively employed with incomes targeted less than 80% of the area median income as determined by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There is often second criterial as well. Prospective buyers need to participate in a homeowner education learning more about the qualifications and responsibilities tied to home ownership.

If I own an Oberlin CLT home, will the equity in my house grow?


Community land trusts determine a resale formula that determines the maximum allowable resale price. The formula guarantees the homeowner growth in equity while at the same time assures housing values don’t become prohibitively unaffordable. The resale formula assures a balance between permanent affordability and individual’s fair return. 

How do I obtain financing if I want to buy a home?  

Although the goal is to make homeownership more affordable than market-rate housing, very few persons will find it possible to purchase a house without mortgage financing. The Oberlin CLT has formed a partnership with Home Inc, an experienced land trust in Yellow Springs, Ohio. They will provide a USDA loan package for the potential homeowner. The land however remains under ownership of the Oberlin CLT which is addressed by a ground lease signed by the homeowner and land trust. The renewable ground lease is a formal document detailing the role and responsibilities of both the CLT and the homeowner. The ground lease assures the homeowner secure, long-term rights to use the land.


Who pays the property taxes?

The homeowner is responsible for both the home and land property taxes. Homeowners may qualify for the same homestead exemptions or rebates that typical homeowner are offered.

Will I be permitted to make improvements after I purchasing my home?

Yes, homeowners are encouraged to maintain and improve their home by making capital investments but are required to notify the CLT in advance of such improvements. All improvements must be designed and constructed in compliance with local building and zoning codes. The value of such improvements is added to the resale price as part of the resale formula.

What happens if Oberlin CLT homeowner wants to resell their home and move?

Community land trusts maintain an option to purchase any homes that are located upon its land. The CLT may exercise the option to purchase the home and resell to another income qualified buyer. The CLT may also approve the homeowner to sell the home to an income-qualified buyer. In either case, the purchase price may not exceed the maximum allowable price as determined by the resale formula as outlined in the homeowner’s ground lease.

What happens if an Oberlin CLT homeowner defaults on their mortgage? 

The mortgage agreement language necessitates that a lender notifies the CLT whenever a CLT mortgage holder is in default. The CLT has a period of time to cure the default, working on behalf of the homeowner. If the CLT does not take this action, and the lender forecloses the property, the CLT is given the opportunity to purchase the foreclosed building. The CLT retains ownership of the land and is in a favorable position to negotiate with both the homeowner and the lender.

How do I become a member of the Oberlin CLT and offer support? 

The Oberlin CLT welcomes your help to assure the success of the land trust. Whether joining as a member of the Oberlin CLT (, making a contribution, or becoming a volunteer, we welcome your help. Time, talent and treasure are equally valued toward making the Oberlin CLT a thriving land trust for Lorain County.

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