Community Land Trusts - a radical or reformist response to The Housing Question today?



The Housing Question, Community Land Trusts, reformist, urban land management, private property


Community Land Trusts (CLTs) can be a focal point of community organization in defence of neighbourhood space and in seeking to push back against powerful developers. Simultaneously, we also see CLTs that represent a reformist desire for self-help and petite bourgeois claims on home ownership.  Through a study of three working class neighbourhoods, one each in Manhattan and Boston and the other in Liverpool, UK, we see evidence of radical agitation, reformist politicization and technocratic authority over the deployment of resources and the management of land and housing.  The CLT is shown as a means by which communities become politicized, operating as a site of resistance to what Harvey would refer to as ‘surplus absorption’ through inner urban transformation.  Yet, if as Engels suggests, the abolition of the capitalist mode of production is the only way to address inequality driven by private property rights and developer interests, he may also have argued that, while CLTs begin as radical instruments, their impact on the housing question will always remain reformist in character.

Author Biography

Mike Rowe, University of Liverpool

Lecturer in Public Sector Manager




How to Cite

Rowe, M., Engelsman, U., & Southern, A. (2016). Community Land Trusts - a radical or reformist response to The Housing Question today?. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 15(3), 590–615. Retrieved from