How Houston Community Land Trusts Work: Affordable Housing Options In Houston

houston community land trusts

How Houston Community Land Trusts Work: Affordable Housing Options In Houston

In this article, I will talk to you about an affordable housing option called a community land trust.

These programs can help connect low-income families in Houston to affordable homes that are newly renovated and move-in ready.

If you have been stuck on a Houston housing waitlist for years, are tired of renting an apartment, or your household income makes it difficult to save for a down payment, this Houston housing program could be for you.

What Is A Community Land Trust?

A community land trust is a nonprofit organization that works to conserve community land and promote community ownership.

The community land trusts are generally set up with the intent of ensuring access to affordable housing. They work by taking ownership of a community parcel of property, such as vacant lots, abandoned homes, or foreclosed properties, and selling it on a long-term basis with an affordable price tag to people who have low incomes.

How Does A Community Land Trust Work?

Essentially the way these programs work is the non-profit owns the land underneath the house. When a family purchases a community land trust home, they are only paying for the cost of the house (not the land underneath the house). This lowers the cost of the home making it accessible for low-income families.

How Much Does A Community Land Trust Home Cost?

The monthly cost could range between $785 to $1000. This includes taxes, insurance, and the lease fee. The total cost of a community land trust home could be as low as $75,000 according to Kinder Institute for Research.

Editor’s note: The cost of a community land trust will depend on the city of the home, inflation rates, and the cost of building materials.

How Do You Find Community Land Trust Programs?

You can find community land trust programs in your city by contacting your local housing authority. They will be able to tell you if there are these types of affordable housing programs in your area.

Ground Solutions Network is a website that is dedicated to the topic of community land trusts. You can visit their website to learn more about the topic or find community land trusts in your own city.

Google is another way to find community land trusts near you. Simply type “Community Land Trust In [your city here]” to see any programs that serve your community.

Editor’s note: There are two community land trust programs in Houston that we will discuss later in this article. Those are Houston Land Bank and Houston Community Land Trust.

Can You Sell A Community Land Trust Home?

Yes, you can sell your community land trust home.

The catch is that you cannot sell it for above a certain price of the home’s worth. The non-profit, Houston Community Land Trust, states that a homeowner cannot sell their home for more than the home’s “resale formula price”. This would be the home’s initial sales price, plus a fixed % increase of the initial price per year.

This stipulation is put in place to allow you to build some equity, but also keep the home affordable for the next family, should you choose to sell your community land trust home.

The goal of community land trusts are to offer affordable housing to the families who need them. This is why these are considered “community-owned” properties.

Can You Transfer Your Community Land Trust Home To Family Members?

Yes, you can transfer your community land trust home to family members or friends.

If the home is transferred to someone that is not your child, spouse, or an existing family member of the deceased, the new owner will have to meet low-income qualifications to live in the Houston community land trust home.

If the home is passed down to a non-family member who does not have a low income, they will have to sell the home back to the non-profit that owns the community land trust home.

Who Qualifies For Houston Community Land Trust Homes?

To qualify for a Houston community land trust program, you must be considered low-income. The reason eligibility is limited to families with low-income is because they need the help the most finding affordable housing in Houston.

The non-profit you are applying for the program through will screen you to see if you are eligible for a Houston community land trust home.

Community Land Trust Programs In Houston

If you are interested in owning a community land trust home, there are two non-profits in Houston that can help.

  • Houston Land Bank
  • Houston Community Land Trust

Houston Land Bank

The Houston Land Bank is a Houston community land trust program that provides affordable housing options in Houston. The Houston Land Bank was created to help low-income residents gain access to affordable homes in Houston.

You can visit the Houston Land Bank website to learn more about community land trusts or see any affordable homes in Houston that are available for sale.

Services Offered

Houston Land Bank offers different programs depending on whether you’re a homebuyer, a developer, a partner who wants to donate property, or a representative of a neighborhood if you’re looking for ways to make your community stronger.

Services For Homeowners

The Houston Land Bank will match you with a new home, to fit both your budget and needs.

Eligible homeowners can get down payment assistance from the City of Houston or the HCLT (Houston Community Land Trust).

For potential homeowners, there are two separate paths to homeownership:

  • New Home Development Program – The NHDP or New Home Development Program gives eligible homeowners newly built, inexpensive houses designed for accommodation by a single-family. This initiative is a collaboration with the Housing and Community Development Department of the City of Houston.
  • Traditional Homebuyer Program – Houston Land Bank promotes the selling of standard, inexpensive houses built by Houston Land Bank-endorsed developers and builders. You can view homes available for sale using their website.

Qualifications For These Affordable Housing Programs In Houston

Below are the qualifications for both programs offered by Houston Land Bank which include the:

  • Eligibility for New Home Development Program
  • Eligibility for the Traditional Home Buyer Program

Eligibility for New Home Development Program

In order to be eligible for the NHDP, your gross household income should be 80% or less of the area median income (AMI). The AMI’s rate changes annually so be sure to ask if your income qualifies you for this housing program.

Here are a few other requirements:

  • Undergo a Homebuyer Education Course spanning around 8 hours through a HUD-approved counseling agency.
  • Must be a U.S. national or a holder of permanent residence.
  • Need to get a mortgage for the buying cost at a fixed rate for 30 years.
  • Must live in the NHDP-house as a permanent residence after purchase.

Eligibility for Traditional Homebuyer Program

To qualify for the Traditional Homebuyer Program, you must have an income of no more than 120% or less of AMI. Aside from that, here are some other eligibility requirements:

  • Use that house as your principal residence
  • Get your income qualified with the City of Houston.

Houston Land Bank Properties In Harris County

You can see a map of Houston Land Bank properties that are available for sale on their inventory page.

More Information About The Houston Land Bank Program

You can receive more information through a call on the numbers 281-655-4600 and 713-512-5575 or by visiting the Houston Land Trust website.

Houston Land Trust Program

The Houston Neighborhood Land Trust’s goal is to match potential homeowners with consistently affordable housing in Houston, making homeownership a reality for low-income families.

Along with that, Houston Neighborhood Land Trust also provides stewardship programs and assistance to facilitate buyers in achieving long-term sustainability. Its work mostly revolves around helping lower-income households by charging them only for the cost of the house without property taxes.

Homebuyer Choice Program

This service will allow you to select your area and your house, and the Houston Community Land Trust will assist you in making your property purchase more feasible by purchasing its land and putting it in a trust.

An eligible homeowner can get upwards of $150,000 or $150,000 in financial aid grants from the Houston Community Land Trust’s Homebuyer Choice Program. This assistance helps to lower the overall cost of purchasing a home. It is only applicable for people in the City of Houston who properly fit the program’s essential requirements.

Qualifications For The Houston Land Trust Program

To be eligible to purchase from us, you will have to meet the following requirements:

  • Have a combined annual household income that is less than 80 percent of the AMI. The Area Median Income guide for 2021 Houston can be accessed online.
  • You must be a national or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Attend an 8-hour HUD-approved homeowner training program as well as one of the HCLT’s Orientation sessions.
  • You must be eligible to secure a fixed-rate mortgage spanning 30 years through one of HCLT’s licensed lenders.
  • You must bear reduced liability. It should be less than the debt-to-income ratio limits set by Houston CLT.
  • After closure, interested parties will need to keep at least $1000 in private funds as a reserve.
  • The applicant must be ready and able to have the necessary paperwork to prove their eligibility.

Applying For The Houston Community Land Trust Program

To apply for this program you must complete an online homebuyer application.

This application will request information that is used for approval or denial of this community land trust program like:

  • Consumer debt
  • Credit history
  • Number of household members
  • Savings
  • Monthly household income
  • Homeownership objectives
  • Current living standards

You will also need to provide proof of income statements from your bank, tax returns, paycheck stubs, etc.

More Information On The Houston Community Land Trust Program

For more information on this Houston affordable housing program, visit the Houston Community Land Trust website or call them at 713.512.5575


The community land trust programs in Houston can potentially provide your or a client with an affordable option for housing in Houston.

This article was written in order to draw attention and encourage more people who are eligible for these programs to consider these as viable Houston housing options for their families.

If you are currently waiting on a Houston housing list and want other options for low-cost housing, then consider calling these community land bank programs for more information.

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