We established the Community Housing Land Trust, LLC on April 4, and are now exploring an affordable dorm project, but the story began a few years ago. Through our work with the Youth Network Initiative, the Community Foundation began to consider how we could aid with the housing situation. We learned of the acute housing need at that time, but we did not feel we had the resources or expertise to delve into housing. Two years later, to support the Healthy Communities housing effort, we held a Community Conversation on Workforce Housing in April 2017.
As the presenter of the Community Conversation on Workforce Housing, we completed extensive research on potential community partners in development, policy, services, and funding resources. We found one primary area of need was housing for our workforce, including the working poor. This became our emphasis. As Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities continued their study, we continued to research helpful actions and talked with Community Foundation fundholders who were interested in contributing financial support. We decided to proceed with actionable steps to help accelerate the local effort to develop workforce housing, which included early conversations with the City of Reno on use of properties. Last winter, we also took a field trip to the Bay Area to learn from other community foundations’ housing initiatives.
The creation of the Community Housing Land Trust, an LLC under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, was the culmination of this work. The Trust model is based on developing housing for sale or lease to qualified low-income residents. The Trust holds the land in a permanent land-lease arrangement, with the “improvements” either owned by the qualified low-income residents, or other non-profit housing corporations that also manage the property. The Trust may also be involved in variations of ownership, which can involve creative collaborative projects such as an “Affordable Dorm” project. The Trust typically will not provide grant funding, but in some cases, the Trust can help arrange financing.
The Community Housing Land Trust is a wholly owned, single-member LLC of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada and is governed by our Board of Trustees. Here are some useful facts about the Community Housing Land Trust:
- Through the Community Foundation, start-up costs have been minimal.
- Although staff time has been involved, there is no dedicated/paid staff member working for the Community Housing Land Trust.
- The Community Foundation financial, program, and community engagement staff are all helping with the Trust.
- Community Foundation Policies are in effect for the Trust, ensuring compliance and oversight. Assets held in the Trust will be a component fund of the Community Foundation – there will be no comingling of assets.
- The Trust could be separated from the Community Foundation in the future, should that be economically feasible for the Trust, and should that be advantageous to the future administration and effectiveness of the Trust.
We’re not sure where our Housing endeavors will lead, but as always, the funding interests of our donors and the needs of the community drive the Community Foundation’s work. If you’d like to learn more or get involved, please give me a call: 775-333-5499.
Chris Askin, President and CEO
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