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Land Trusts Aim to Make Homes Affordable

A stack of paper that reads "Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust". The printed page has an animation of a home with a red roof on it.
Screen capture
VPM News Focal Point
Fauquier’s Habitat for Humanity worked with the Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust (CLT) to build the area’s first CLT home in 2023

Affordable housing developers in Virginia are building homes using a CLT approach in localities and now through the Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust 


ANGIE MILES: As both homelessness and home prices have increased, Virginians have been searching for innovative ways to make shelter available and affordable for more people. Vouchers for subsidized housing, tiny homes, accessory dwelling units, these are some of the solutions. Another is looking not at buildings, but goes to the ground level with the community land trust, or CLT.

AMELIE RIVES (CEO, VIRGINIA STATEWIDE COMMUNITY LAND TRUST): So, a community land trust is an affordable housing model that separates the ownership of a home from the land that it sits upon. A buyer buys that home, and then a community land trust owns the land. The buyer then leases the land from the CLT, using that ground lease, and that effectively allows the home itself to be affordable forever in perpetuity.

ERICA SIMS (CEO, MAGGIE WALKER LAND TRUST): Just like the rest of the country, Virginia is facing a significant and growing affordable housing need at all ranges of income levels, from homeless individuals to middle-income individuals who are having a hard time purchasing a home. And a community land trust provides a home at such an affordable level that we can allow people to move into home ownership and start that wealth building journey.

MELANIE BURCH (CEO, FAUQUIER HABITAT FOR HUMANITY): The issue of affordable housing is significant in Virginia overall. People have issues finding housing that's close to their work, to their children's schools, to perhaps their school. And what's happening is, if they can't find affordable, they're leaving and going to different counties that may be two or three counties away. So that's the equivalent of driving maybe two or three hours just to get to a job in the morning. So, we are currently working in a neighborhood in the town of Warrenton called Haiti Street, and we've been able to come in, rebuild, and give back to the community who's always wanted to live there, reinvesting in the homes that were originally part of their life. We are giving a nod to what was historically there. So, we are coming in and we're building things that are energy-efficient, that are economical for those families, and we're making sure that they still have opportunities for that walkability lifestyle that they always had when they were once part of the community. Look, when we have this in the land trust, we are taking that tax rate out of there. You're not paying for that anymore. You're not going through those struggles.

ANGIE MILES: At this recent gathering of affordable home advocates and developers, they discussed the need for unprecedented innovation to make homes available for more people.

AMELIE RIVES: Approaching zoning with a new lens, even still within the character of your neighborhood, being able to allow a townhouse, a duplex, to me, is really innovative because then that allows you to still have a walkable, healthy community that has more housing, more accessibility, and more affordability. And it's a tool that people can use to access more affordable housing in their community.

ERICA SIMS: We need to find innovative ways to build housing less expensively, to provide loans less expensively, and to spend our resources, whether that's tax dollars or charitable resources, in making homes more affordable. And so, I think one of the easiest things the average citizen can do to help make Virginia a more affordable place and every community a more affordable place is to advocate for more housing to be produced.

AMELIE RIVES: I think Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust is extremely innovative, and it's a tool that people can use to access more affordable housing in their community.

ANGIE MILES: Local land trusts are making homes more affordable in these areas of Virginia: the Maggie Walker Land Trust in Greater Richmond, the Piedmont CLT in Charlottesville, Lighthouse Beloved in Lynchburg, and the New River Home Trust in the Blacksburg, Montgomery County area. Virginia's Statewide CLT is at work in several communities as well, including Loudoun, Fauquier, and Fairfax. The community land trust is one of the newest innovations that these advocates hope more people will discover and utilize.

ERICA SIMS: This is a tool that all communities throughout Virginia can and should use to help people access the American dream.

Angie Miles, Host/Producer, anchors and hosts VPM News Focal Point and special broadcasts.
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