But community land trusts are not only a means to homeownership. Even in the most expensive cities, they increasingly support affordable rentals in multifamily buildings, said Tom Angotti, a professor emeritus of urban planning at Hunter College. Mr. Angotti has long advocated for the model in New York City, where he heads the board of a large multifamily site at Cooper Square.
There, the land is owned by a trust and its 300-plus housing units are owned by a tenant cooperative. This structure keeps rents affordable over time and gives residents, a majority of whom are low-income people of color, a strong voice in how they want to use their homes and the space around them. In that way, Mr. Angotti said, land trusts are about residents seizing political power. “It’s not just that people want a house or an apartment that’s safe and decent and well equipped,” he said. “It’s that they want control over their living environment.”