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



At Home in Our Community

1135 Healdsburg Ave

New 34 unit

Healdsburg ‘Sorrento Square’
breaks ground

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Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County (HLT) 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 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 accessible 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, local government and developers to create affordable housing opportunities for low to moderate income families.

HLT has created 45 homes and we are currently working on 20 more, all in Sonoma County; we have served 55 families to date as we have had 10 re-sales.

Our first development, the Kali Subdivision in Santa Rosa, was done in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County that built 6 homes and The Housing Company that built 4 homes. Our next project was in Petaluma, at the Southgate Subdivision where, as part of the inclusionary zoning ordinance, Delco Builders built 26 homes for HLT in a community of 200 homes. 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. In 2013 we housed 6 families at the Sonata Subdivision in partnership with the City of Healdsburg with homes built by D.R. Horton, as part of the inclusionary zoning program. In 2014 we began construction on 5 homes in partnership with the City of Cotati and with Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County as the builder, and received approval for 4 new homes in Healdsburg where homes will be built by Barry Swenson Builders. For 2015, we are in the planning stages that include the development of 12 new homes, all in Sonoma County. This housing model makes it possible to recruit and retain our workforce. By making it possible to live and work in the same city families are able to give their time and energy to their community which reinforces that this place is truly “home.” 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 2015 will be affordable to a family in 2025 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 area median 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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