Creating “generational wealth”: The Jacksonville Community Land Trust

On Thursday, July 7, Mayor Lenny Curry announced the launch of the Jacksonville Community Land Trust (JCLT) — a non-profit organization designed to create homeownership opportunities for low to moderate-income households in order to build “generational wealth”.

“Strong, financially stable families and neighborhoods are the key to a great city,” said Mayor Curry in a press release. “I am proud to share that the City of Jacksonville is the first city in the state of Florida to have passed the first-look ordinance which allows the JCLT to have first right of refusal of tax-reverted, municipal-owned real estate.”

Additionally, the JCLT will “help neighborhoods resist gentrification, provide community members with a meaningful voice in development.”

“Community land trusts are a solution that is working in many other areas of the country,” said Dr. Joy Hervey, principal consultant for Genesis Ed Solution, the company retained as the JCLT Capacity Building Consultant. “…This is not something that is untried, but is tested and tried in other areas and we’re really excited about bringing it to Jacksonville.”

At an informational open house on Tuesday, July 19, JCLT Board Chair Steven Kelley explained that, at its core, a community land trust makes housing affordable by removing the land from the equation of purchasing a home, making buyers responsible only for the vertical construction.

“We’ll own the lot and lease it to the home buyer for a very nominal sum so your purchase price is reduced down just the cost of the house itself,” he said.

JCLT will work in partnership with the City of Jacksonville to assume ownership of city-owned vacant lots throughout Jacksonville “to help fill those empty spaces and bring homeownership opportunities into these neighborhoods.”

The board has been preparing to launch the JCLT since late 2021, Hervey explained, citing a long-recognized “shortage of supply” in the Jacksonville housing market for affordable homes for households on the “lower end of the income spectrum” —  those earning 80 percent or less of the area median income.

Hervey said JCLT expects to launch its home buyer application in August. In order to qualify for a home through JCLT, applicants’ household income cannot exceed that threshold of 80 percent of the area median income and, Hervey added, that income will be calculated according to household size. Potential homeowners will also have to complete a “home buyer education class.” Furthermore, Hervey explained, applicants must pre-qualify “with a lender that offers a mortgage that’s specifically for community land trust homes and there are several of those in Jacksonville that we’re looking to work with.”

As with a traditional mortgage, property taxes on homes purchased through the land trust will be rolled into a monthly mortgage payment, but will be assessed “at the lower value of the structure itself minus the land,” Hervey clarified.

If or when a home purchased through JCLT is placed back on the market, the new buyer would also have qualify through JCLT prior to purchasing. This process allows the home to remain affordable “in perpetuity,” Hervey added.

“The homeowner’s equity increases as the home value increases,” Kelley explained during the open house. “That’s the wealth building, that’s the wealth creation part of this. However a portion of the equity goes to the seller and a portion goes towards keeping the home affordable for the next owner. That’s the house is kept affordable in perpetuity.”

Kelley added JCLT does not intend to have many homes built right away.

“We have to crawl before we can walk,” he said. “We’re looking to hopefully get four contracts in place before the end of the year and we’re also looking to build 12 to 16 homes over the next year.”

The organization widely recognized as the country’s first community land trust is New Communities, Inc. — a “grassroots organization” launched in 1969 in southwest Georgia. Today there are more than 30 in the state of Florida and more than 225 across the country.

For more information about JCLT, please visit

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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