Community Land Trusts

If you're like us, owning a home in Mount Rainier is a dream come true. Unfortunately, due to rising home prices in the DMV, that dream is becoming out of reach for many low and middle-income people, a larger proportion of whom are people of color. 

Those who became before us worked hard to make this a diverse and inclusive city, and we need to do all we can to make sure those efforts don't get stymied by the larger housing market we find ourselves in.

That's why I support the creation of a Community Land Trust, a legal creation in the state of Maryland by our very own Doyle Niemann when he served as our state delegate. 

How does it work? Well, this webpage probably explains it better than I can. In sum, it allows for a "trust" to own property and sell that property at a below market-rate to only a set of buyers who meet certain criteria (e.g., incomes up to 120% of the poverty rate). It then lets the people purchase the home, pay what looks like a mortgage and then, when they decide to leave the home, recoup what they've paid in plus some set low interest rate related to any increase in property value (e.g., 2%). The result? A way for a low or middle-income family to purchase a home here in Mount Rainier and build equity in it (as opposed to just paying rent).

When a family leaves the home, the property then reverts back to the trust who can now sell it back to a similarly qualified buyer, retaining housing stock for low and middle-income families. Over time, the goal is for the trust to slowly build its portfolio of homes in the neighborhood.

I will admit that this is a BIG idea with a BIG price tag related to the need to purchase and upkeep a portfolio of properties. But neither of those realities make it any less of an idea worth exploring because this issue will help define what the city looks over the next 20-50 years.