April 19, 2024

Residential Real Estate

Affordable Housing Challenge

In Florida, a family of four must have 2.6 wage earners working full time at minimum wage or one full-time wage earner working 102 hours a week in order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to a report from the National Low Income Housing C

Mike Vogel | 2/1/2006
CAPTION: TRUST HELP: Through the trust, the Eicks were able to buy a three-bedroom townhouse.

Response ... Non-Profits

The Trust Option

Community land trusts are appearing as a vehicle for creating workforce housing.

One year ago, Jennifer Mixon-Eick, her husband, Kevin, and son, Brandon, were living in a one-room efficiency apartment in Marathon. "That's all we could afford in the Keys," says Mixon-Eick. The average sales price in the Middle Keys is $735,000.

Jennifer is an assistant with the local real estate board. Kevin works at a home improvement store. A baby girl was due in June. In May, they were able to purchase a three-bedroom townhouse whose living room is twice the size of their old apartment. The extraordinary low price for the Keys: $170,000.

The Eicks were fortunate to buy one of four townhouses built by the Middle Keys Community Land Trust, founded in 2000 to acquire property and make it permanently affordable. The trust accomplishes that by holding a 99-year lease on the land under the homes and requiring home-owners, if they sell, to limit their gain to 3% appreciation from the purchase price per year. Buyers have had household incomes typically from $40,000 to $70,000.

The trust sold its first four single-family homes in 2004 for $155,000 each. Trust administrator Rick Casey estimates the market rate for a similar house and land would have been more than $450,000.

To make development possible, the trust needs free land and in some cases financial help for construction costs, Casey says. The Monroe County Land Authority acquired the land for the trust's first project. A second parcel was donated by a developer in return for development rights on another site. The trust gets operating income from a 14-unit apartment building the land authority bought and gave to it.

The number of homes created by Florida's four land trusts has been small -- 34. "You've got to start somewhere," says Wight Greger, senior technical adviser for the Florida Housing Coalition. She says 15 Florida counties and cities are working on creating trusts.

The Middle Keys trust, meanwhile, hopes to start work this year on seven homes in Islamorada. "I don't think we'll ever be able to build enough to solve the problem," Casey says. "The economics of Monroe County would seem to say you'll never be able to build enough."

TRUST HELP:
Florida's Community Land Trusts

Florida Community Land Trust Institute: A collaboration between the Florida Housing Coalition and 1000 Friends of Florida, the institute provides technical assistance to communities in evaluating the feasibility of starting up a CLT and also assists with organizational startup of a CLT. Call (850) 878-4219 or contact Wight Greger, greger@flhousing.org, or Jaimie Ross, jaimieross@aol.com.

Bahama Conch Community Land Trust: bcclt.org

Middle Keys Community Land Trust: mkclt.org

Escambia County Community Land Trust: ecclt.com; Executive Director John Wyche, (850) 433-2977

Hannibal Square Community Land Trust: Executive Director Bedilia Campbell, (321) 946-6195, hannibalsquareclt@gmail.com

Tags: Politics & Law, Around Florida, Government/Politics & Law, Housing/Construction

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