Success stories: Community Home Trust
The Community Home Trust (CHT) is the first in our “Stories from the Field” series in honor of National Community Development Week 2019. Over the past 20 years, CHT has been one of the largest providers of housing affordable to low and moderate income households in Orange County. It follows the land trust model in which it sells a home to a qualified buyer but retains ownership of the land beneath the home. This allows CHT to be able to offer homeownership opportunities at below market rate sale prices.
In return, the Land Trust homeowners agree to limit the sales price of their homes if they resell in the future. This ensures that the homes will remain part of the permanent affordable inventory so desperately needed in Orange County. This model has allowed households earning 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), which can range from $45,150 for a one-person household to $64,500 for a four-person household, to purchase single-family detached homes, townhouses and condos in such places as Ballentine, Claremont, Greenbridge, Larkspur, Rosemary Place and Vineyard Square.
CHT has provided 260 affordable homes in Chapel Hill and Carrboro at a median cost of $104,000 as compared to the $375,000 median cost of market-rate housing. In addition, CHT assists aspring homebuyers through the homebuying process, which includes program orientation, financial counseling and homebuyer education. In fact, these services are not only provided to the those seeking to purchase a CHT home but also to the public at large.
In 2017, CHT purchased a 58-unit subsized apartment complex in Carrboro, making it the first time that they included rental housing in their portfolio. These apartment units are affordable to households and families with lower incomes than those that can qualify for the CHT homeownership program.
The Community Land Trust is an important member of the affordable housing provider community in Orange County and we are proud to give them the accolades that are most certainty due! Here are some personal stories of three of the many people and families that CHT has helped find permanently affordable housing in our community.
When Mary approached Community Home Trust about buying a home, she was a pre-school teacher in Carrboro. Her salary was quite low. Through CHT, she was able to purchase a two-bedroom, 800-square foot townhome in Carrboro in 2006. Her townhome is in a co-housing community, where residents plan and work together to manage the common areas and share a community meeting room and kitchen. Mary’s townhome is within walking distance of downtown Carrboro and was an easy bike ride to her workplace.
Today, Mary lives in the townhome with her husband, Ehren, and their twins who joined the family in 2016. Although their modest townhome is really small for a family of four, Mary and Ehren want to continue to live in their home and allow their children to grow up in a supportive, nurturing environment.
Gail, a newly single mom, wanted to provide as best she could for her high school-bound daughter, and that included sending her to a school in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. Gail looked on the open market and knew she could not afford those options. Fortunately, she found the Community Home Trust online, called, and enrolled in the homeownership program.
Within a year, she purchased a new townhome in Meadowmont. She was able to raise her daughter in Chapel Hill and return to school herself, at Durham Tech. She went on to attend and graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, thanks to the encouragement of a client, William “Bill” Friday, former UNC system president.
Chuck is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus, die-hard Tar Heel, and a longtime employee of Elmo’s of Carrboro. Chuck discovered Community Home Trust’s affordable and inclusive homeownership program via an online search for a condominium. “I’ll be honest,” said Chuck, “I thought it sounded too good to be true.” Nevertheless, he completed an application, toured the almost-completed Greenbridge condominiums, and fell in love!
Today, Chuck walks less than a quarter-mile to Elmo’s and to most other places he frequents in downtown Chapel Hill and nearby Carrboro. What has he found transformative about being a homeowner? “Apartment living can feel very transient. Homeowners invest their energy where they live, and that benefits the community. Owning something builds confidence and self-esteem. I’m growing roots here.”