A community land trust is a nonprofit corporation that develops and stewards affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces and other neighborhood assets on behalf of a community. The Essex Community Land Trust primarily focuses on creating permeant affordable housing by way of a 98 year ground lease. In doing this, the home is affordable for the long term despite market and administration changes. Furthermore, each ECLT owner is required by the ground lease to “pay it forward” meaning when they want to sell, they must sell the home to a low- to moderate-income person thereby keeping the community opportunity rolling for 98 years.
In the spring of 2010, a planning committee was formed to determine the feasibility of a countywide CLT. The planning committee included representatives from community development corporations, other nonprofit housing organizations, banks, foundations, researchers, and community advocates. In the fall of 2011, the Essex Community Land Trust (ECLT) was born. The ECLT is one of approximately two hundred and fifty community land trusts in the nation.