Commonwealth Land Trust (CLT) provides affordable housing and supportive services to the most vulnerable individuals and families in Massachusetts to prevent homelessness, rebuild lives, and preserve neighborhoods.




Commonwealth Land Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has been providing affordable housing and case management services in the Greater Boston area since 1985. CLT owns and manages over 350 units of affordable housing in twenty properties, providing housing and supportive services to over 650 of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents. Linking housing and care, CLT works to rebuild lives and communities.


CLT’s portfolio includes two types of housing:

  • Affordable apartments serving homeless and low- to moderate-income families, and
  • Supportive housing programs serving homeless, disabled, and very low-income individuals.

The majority of CLT’s supportive housing residents are struggling with multiple health problems, including physical disabilities, mental health challenges, addictions, and HIV/AIDS.


Upon move-in, CLT ensures that our clients’ basic needs are met. Residents of our supportive housing properties are provided with a furnished room and access to an on-site food pantry. Case managers conduct initial intakes and help residents acclimate to permanent housing. They refer our clients to local resources, address their medical, legal, and social challenges, and help them stay engaged with outside providers. Although many supportive housing residents are unable to work due to the severity of their disability, CLT encourages our clients to realize their individual goals, which may include joining a support group, volunteering, or reconnecting with their family.


CLT’s model of complete self-management and on-site case management provision ensures that our residents receive the support necessary to maintain their health and rebuild their lives.




Originally founded as a development agency, CLT’s initial focus was on preserving affordable housing during the booming real estate market of the 1980s. CLT acquired and renovated properties that were sites of dilapidation and crime, or conversely, targeted for gentrification. By removing these buildings from the speculative market, CLT ensured they would remain accessible to low-income individuals.


Starting in 1999, under Ellen Tan’s twenty years as President & CEO, CLT developed a self-sustaining business model providing supportive services for formerly homeless individuals and families. Amidst the HIV/AIDS crisis, the crack epidemic, and escalating rates of homelessness in the Greater Boston area, CLT identified a clear and urgent need to house and support those trapped in a cycle of homelessness. CLT addressed this need by transitioning to complete self-management, establishing departments for case management, supportive housing, administration, and maintenance and growing from five to forty employees. Over the years under Ellen Tan’s leadership, CLT has provided permanent housing and vital supportive services to thousands of homeless individuals and families.