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The pandemic and quarantine has slowed down a lot of things, but not the need for – or the desire to own – an affordable home.
The Houston Community Land Trust is as busy as ever.
The local non-profit connects modest-income residents with substantial financial assistance and support to achieve homeownership. In exchange for more than $100,000 in support to put towards their home purchase, potential buyers must agree to put the land beneath the home in trust so it remains permanently affordable for future generations.
“We get an application a day. So far in 2021 we have received 33 applications,” said Executive Director Ashley Allen.
HAR.com reported that the 2020 median home price in Houston was $260,000.00. Allen said that price is not affordable for someone under 80% of the Houston Area Median Income- which can include teachers, government employees, bus drivers, healthcare workers, social workers and retirees.
“We have such a demand for our program because so many Houstonians are not making enough to afford to buy a home, but they also are burdened by the rapid increase in the cost of rental housing as well,” Allen said.
HCLT has received a $1.2 million grant from JPMorgan Chase to expand the non-profit’s community work and impact in Houston.
“The Community Land Trust model of public-private partnership helps keep homes affordable for working families. JPMorgan Chase’s support will be used towards scaling the program so it can serve more families who want to share in the dream of homeownership,” said Carolyn Watson, head of philanthropy in Houston for JPMorgan Chase.
Founded in 2018, HCLT has helped 29 families purchase homes with an average purchase price of $75,115—with monthly mortgage payments below $750 a month.
Working with the New Home Development Program – a partnership including the City of Houston and the Houston Land Bank – much of the work by HCLT is focused on Acres Homes. Acres Homes is a neighborhood experiencing rapid gentrification and the affordability issues that follow in its wake.
The HCLT’s new initiative, the Homebuyer Choice Program, will expand throughout Houston, allowing residents all over the city the chance to purchase a home for a truly affordable price.
The City of Houston’s Houston and Community Development Department will provide a subsidy ranging from $100,000 to $150,000 for qualified income buyers who are interested in purchasing their home through the HCLT. Homebuyers are expected to secure a conventional, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage through an HCLT approved lender to contribute at least $70,000 to the purchase of the home.
The first Houstonian to buy a home through the Homebuyers Choice program is Shelina Harris-Page. Ms. Harris-Page bought her home in the Kingwood area and received a $150,000 subsidy towards the purchase. She was able to purchase a 3-bed, 3-bath home in great condition — while keeping her mortgage under $900.00 a month.
Ms. Harris-Page – a first-time home buyer – will be able to pass this home down to her heirs, or if she decides to eventually sell, the home will be available for purchase at an affordable price for another family.
“I would recommend the HCLT because just like it helped me, it will bless those that you know can’t afford a regular payment on a home so that is a tremendous blessing to us,” Ms. Harris-Page said. “I was introduced through the HCLT program to my realtor. I found out how the program worked and went through it and I could not have made a better choice… It was a little slow at first, but then the ball started rolling. It takes patience and you just have to stay positive and you’re going to get there. “
If you would like to learn more about the Houston Community Land Trust or apply to purchase a home through their program, please visit their website at www.houstonclt.org