The Uniondale Community Land Trust sees the land trust model as a powerful, long-term community development strategy that would help revitalize housing, strengthen participation, shore up household (leaseholder) assets and budgets, and stabilize the local economy and institutions.
Community land trusts have been proposed as one approach that can help neighborhoods deal with the remaining stock of abandoned and REO housing, and provide long-term, multi-generational housing affordability. In the model, a land trust acquires and often renovates properties, and then sells the built structures to new owners while retaining the land on behalf of the community; this lowers the purchase price for the homebuyer, while obligating them (through a land lease agreement) to limit the home’s resale price. U-CLT members see the land trust as a powerful, long-term community development strategy that would help revitalize housing, strengthen participation, shore up household (leaseholder) assets and budgets, and stabilize the local economy and institutions. The foreclosure crisis provided the original impetus for the development of the U-CLT.
Uniondale received a disproportionate number of subprime loans during the housing boom. More than half of the loans originated between 2005 and 2006 were high-rate, and the community has faced high levels of foreclosures, REO vacancies, and post-crash speculative investment. A successful CLT would ensure that the community retains affordable housing stock. Our model could also provide opportunities for apprenticeships and internships (i.e., in the renovation stage), preparing the local workforce for job openings associated with local development projects. In short, the CLT offers a means of rehabilitating vacancies into permanently-affordable, owner-occupied housing, while augmenting community control over the development process and its effects.
U-CLT’s target market includes households, ideally but not necessarily current residents of Uniondale, who are capable of paying a mortgage but incapable of affording a home on the open market. We aim to achieve affordability in the federally-defined “low-income” segment between 50% and 80% of area median income. Nassau County’s AMI in 2012 was quite high at $92,000; the corresponding figure for Uniondale was $69,510, placing the median household in Uniondale just inside the upper bound of eligibility. When possible, U-CLT also hopes to assist households who lost wealth during the foreclosure crisis become homeowners again, while ensuring that they are not put at risk a second time due to personal financial instability or unscrupulous lending practices.
U-CLT housing will have the direct effect of providing affordable housing for a range of households, but we also envision a range of positive indirect effects as well. By reducing turnover, U-CLT housing will act as a stabilizing community asset for Uniondale’s neighborhoods and institutions. By reducing owner cost burdens and easing “paycheck-to-paycheck” precariousness, U-CLT housing will also channel more money into local businesses, charities, and institutions, and free up more time for families juggling multiple jobs.