Covenant Community Land Trust (CCLT) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building cooperative community through affordable housing and land conservation. CCLT was founded in 1978 as a response to the rapid gentrification occurring in the rural communities of Maine. Our community land trust was established by radical nuns and community activists who saw the desperate need of those disenfranchised by financial institutions and traditional notions of land ownership. CCLT is organized democratically by and for its low-income members. CCLT’s purposes are:
- To restore the spiritual and physical relationship between our human community and the land;
- To acquire land; to preserve and protect the land, as stewards of a sacred land trust; to conserve its resources, and maintain its ecological balance;
- To make land available to individuals, families, groups and the general public – especially to those in greatest need – for uses consistent with the health of the land, and the welfare of the general community;
- To provide for a just distribution of natural resources and the fruits of the land;
- To educate one another of the land trust community, and the general public, in common stewardship of the land; and to develop a network of cooperation and mutual aid.
CCLT develops housing through renovation or new construction, and sells the houses to low-income families. CCLT leases the land to the families, who agree to restrictions on how the house can be transferred in the future. By building homes for and with families using the community land trust model, a model of shared equity, CCLT is able to provide affordable housing, and keep it affordable in perpetuity. CCLT builds wealth for both the community and the individual homeowners. The community gets permanently affordable, stewarded land, and the homeowners get all of the advantages of owning a home – security, a chance for appreciated value, tax benefits, and a bridge over the gap between rental and home ownership.
In the area of housing, we found that the problem in greater Hancock County is the inability of a family to purchase a home or find inexpensive rent due to extreme income limitations. Historically, CCLT served disadvantaged families who were often homeless. Throughout the 1980’s homelessness in Maine was on the rise and affordable housing became more and more scarce. In the late 80’s, CCLT was instrumental in changing Maine state law to recognize the value of using community land trusts to provide affordable housing. As a result of these changes, and new opportunities for funding, CCLT was able to complete 40 homes by the late 1990’s. To date, CCLT in collaboration with HOME Inc. has built 53 houses spread throughout Hancock County. CCLT continues to serve low-income families in rural Maine.