Testimonials from Housing Land Trust Homeowners

“Its important owning space that is special and having your own sanctuary. We can breath easy it feels like Eden in our own backyard garden. We have pride of ownership knowing we worked hard and have been rewarded.”

— Kevin & Margaret


Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County (HLTSC) is a private, non profit corporation established in February 2002.

MISSION STATEMENT: The mission of the Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County is to provide home ownership opportunities to low- and moderate-income families in Sonoma County while ensuring permanent housing affordability through the use of a land trust model. Our mission is based upon the belief that (1) all working families deserve a home of their own, and (2) communities with homeowners from a broad socio-economic range are the strongest and most vibrant.

The model used to fulfill our mission is called the Community Land Trust model (CLT). In this model the land trust organization owns real estate in order to provide benefits to its local community - and in particular to make land and housing available to residents who cannot otherwise afford them. The land acquired can be purchased outright, or donated. The property can be vacant and HLTSC can arrange for the development of housing on it, or the property can have existing structures on it. HLTSC works closely with a variety of local organizations to create affordable housing opportunities for low to moderate income families.

HLT has created 44 homes and we are currently working on 21 more, all in Sonoma County; we have served 52 families to date as we have had 9 re-sales.

Our first development, the Kali Subdivision in Santa Rosa, was done in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County; HfH was the builder for 6 of 10 homes on land owned by HLTSC. The remaining 4 homes were built by The Housing Company, a for-profit developer and builder. In Petaluma, Frates Square is a 26 single family home community at the Southgate Subdivision; homes were built by Delco Builders. The Petaluma project is the inclusionary housing that is part of a larger (about 200 homes) subdivision. HLTSC partnered with the City of Petaluma, a city that continues to hold a stellar track record in building affordable housing. In Cloverdale, HLT has partnered with the City to preserve the affordability of 2 existing units, keeping them from being lost from the workforce housing stock. This year we have housed families in 6 homes at the Sonata Subdivision in Healdsburg in partnership with D.R. Horton and the City. Projects in the planning stages for the remainder of 2013 to 2014 include 21 more single family homes: 10 in Healdsburg and 11 in partnership with the City of Cotati. It is our goal to continue to replicate the model so we can continue to recruit and retain our local workforce making it possible for those who are the fabric of our comunity to afford to work and live in the same community. In all cases the land and buildings are treated differently: The land is held permanently by the land trust so that it will always benefit the community; buildings are owned by those who reside in them with exclusive rights to the property.

HLTSC provides access to land and housing for people who are otherwise priced out of the housing market. The model employed helps people to purchase homes on affordable terms. The land beneath the homes is then leased to the homeowners through a long-term, 99-year, renewable lease. Residents and their descendants can use the land for as long as they wish to live there. The land lease requires that owners live in their homes as their primary residences. When homes are resold, the lease ensures that the new owners will also be residents - not absentee owners.

A key benefit of HLTSC is the ability to ensure prices stay affordable: When the homeowners decide to move, they can sell their homes. The land lease agreement gives the HLTSC the right to buy each home back for an amount determined limited by HLTSC resale formula. The resale formula is designed to give homeowners a fair return for their investment, while keeping the price affordable for future low to moderate income families. At the time of sale, the homeowner has the benefit of having equity and a possible small gain from the sale of the house.

Upon resale, the home price will be determined by what the family can afford, regardless of the housing market. The home made affordable to a family in 2013 will be affordable to a family in 2023 as the increase in home price will be based on the percentage increase in the median household income, as determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. Such increase will be measured by comparing the median income on the date of the sale to the first owner family to the median household income on the date of the resale to the subsequent owner family of equivalent area median income level.

The price of the home is as affordable to the subsequent owners for decades as it is to the first owner in the same income level. This aspect is unique to the Land Trust model and what sets it aside from other models that start off by offering affordable housing but are unable to continue to do so after the first sale; tying future resale prices to the percentage increase in the median area income over time has a great impact every time the home is sold, it ensures the home remains affordable in perpetuity.




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