Shared Land Ownership

Bob Paterson Community Finance Solutions

Affordable housing has long been a problem in the developed world, especially around large urban areas where low-income families have a hard time keeping pace with skyrocketing rents and home prices. The UK is no exception.

But Ashoka Fellow, Bob Paterson, found a way to combat this situation. Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are charities that own land and property for the benefit of the community living and working there. Not private individuals. While not new, Bob envisioned a way for CLTs to provide affordable housing. Working in tandem with the University of Salford’s Community Finance Solutions, Bob created an intermediate housing market based on the collective property rights inherent in CLTs.

Bob’s vision encompassed three main elements. First, it focused on the fact that CLTs separate the land value from the property that’s built on it. While the land is held in perpetuity for the benefit of the community, Bob’s idea was to build houses and flats that match the average communal income and therefore keep it affordable. Second, Bob created innovative financial mechanisms and worked with mainstream lenders to get the housing built. Finally, he campaigned the British government to create a new legislative framework for community asset and land ownership. Through this three-pronged approach, Bob increased the scope and control of affordable housing and transformed the UK’s housing market in general.

In legally defining CLTs, Britain’s Housing and Regeneration Act of 2008 guarantees the availability of affordable housing in these communities for generations to come. The legislation would not have been passed without Bob’s tireless efforts. Today there are hundreds of CLTs in the UK and U.S. and more on their way in France and Belgium.