February 26, 2021
Community Foundation of Northern Nevada
This January, Aria and James purchased their first house, “The City Cottage,” from the Community Housing Land Trust, an LLC of the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada.
The charming, one-of-a-kind, two-bedroom, one-bath home is remarkable as it is the first single-family home sold in Nevada by a community land trust.
Aria and James had just about given up their search for a home when they learned about the City Cottage from the Community Foundation. The opportunity is life-changing for the couple.
“For the past few years, I have worked for a non-profit addressing affordable housing issues in our community, and I saw how dire the housing situation has gotten. We never thought that buying a home would ever be a reality for us as I work for a nonprofit and James is disabled. We recently began discussing starting our family and talked about how we could make that work in our tiny apartment. When this opportunity came along, it was a blessing that we never thought we would have. We are so grateful to Kyle Chandler-Isacksen and the Community Foundation for how they have changed our lives. And I am so excited for our future.”
The Community Housing Land Trust was created by the Community Foundation to provide homes that are affordable to people earning less than the area median income in Reno: $79,600 for a family of four.
The lot that the City Cottage sits on was donated as a charitable gift to the Community Housing Land Trust (CHLT) by Kyle and Katy Chandler-Isacksen.
The Chandler-Isacksens have long been leaders of a neighborhood revival movement, the Be The Change Project, and originally bought the land inexpensively as a place for a community garden and community center. Katy planted and tended the garden for a few years, meeting and making friends with neighbors passing by. When zoning restrictions ruled out a community center, they determined to build a modest home to help those who cannot afford to get into the Reno housing market. Kyle built the 1000 sq. ft. house with rigid home insulation reclaimed from Burning Man cast-offs, live edge siding milled from logs thrown into the Truckee dump, solar panels, and a mini/split heat exchange. Unlike many affordable houses, this home reflects the couple’s artistic sensibility and concern for climate change, reducing waste, beautifying the neighborhood, and long-term cost efficiency to the buyer.
The Community Housing Land Trust continues to own the land and leases it to the homeowner for a modest sum. The CHLT model of selling the home and retaining ownership of the property keeps the house affordable. Buyers’ income levels must fit into a specific window to purchase a home through the Community Housing Land Trust. To qualify, they must earn less than 80% of the Area Median Income while earning enough, so their housing expenses total no more than 35% of their monthly income.
The City Cottage sale was a first for the Community Housing Land Trust and a first for the title company, appraiser, and lender as well. Paul Bruk, MAI, the appraiser for the property, Stewart Title, and Caliber Home Loans, were willing to commit to the learning curve and time that comes with the research, regulations, and paperwork required to sell a home under the land trust model. The Community Housing Land Trust is grateful for their partnership and their generous community support.
When Aria and James are ready to sell, they will sell the home to another income-qualified family.
The selling price for this home will be restricted to a resale formula tied to the Area Median Income. This way, the home remains affordable for future buyers. The 99-year ground lease renews each time the house is sold. As the home appreciates, the Community Housing Land Trust sales model provides homeowners the opportunity to build equity.
The City Cottage, sold through the Community Housing Land Trust, is the first single-family community land trust home in Nevada. While it is a first, the community land trust model is a proven method for offering income-qualified housing. The community land trust model has been used for decades around the country and the world. In the U.S., community land trusts began in the 1960s to help African American farmers gain access to farmland. There are an estimated 277 community land trusts in the United States. According to a Lincoln Institute of Land Policy study, foreclosure rates for community land trust mortgages are significantly lower than traditional loans. In 2010, 8.57% of conventional market-rate homeowners were seriously delinquent, while just 1.30% of CLT homeowners were. That same year, just 0.46% of CLT loans were in foreclosure proceedings, compared to 4.63% of conventional loans.
The Community Housing Land Trust is building a track record as a philanthropic resource to receive land donations to turn into housing.
Said Chris Askin, President, and CEO of the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada, after the sale:
“We are thrilled and proud to see the first home sold to a hard-working family earning less than median income. And now that the hard work of setting up the structure and partnerships is done, we can help dozens of more families. This work would not have happened without the visionary push from past Chair Jim Pfrommer, who recognized that the Community Foundation could and should establish a Community Land Trust.”
The Community Foundation of Northern Nevada established the Community Housing Land Trust LLC in 2018. The Community Foundation of Northern Nevada is the region’s premier philanthropic resource. Philanthropic advisor to hundreds of families, businesses, and nonprofits, it manages donor advised funds, scholarships, organizational endowments, and community funds. Since 1998 it has granted more than $140 million in grants and scholarships, locally, nationally, and worldwide. A Northern Nevada leader, Community Foundation initiatives, including housing, address some of the most pressing issues facing Northern Nevada residents.