Elevation Community Land Trust
At their December 10, 2020 meeting, the Golden City Council had a presentation by Elevation Community Land Trust (ECLT; https://www.elevationclt.org/). The presentation can be viewed on the Golden website (Item #11 at https://goldenco.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=3902).
Here’s some background information about ECLT.
Community Land Trusts maintain affordable units in perpetuity while empowering low-income families to progress from rental housing to homeownership and building family wealth. Please see the infographic about community land trusts at https://community-wealth.org/content/infographic-community-land-trusts.
ECLT was endowed in 2017 with an almost $25M investment from a group of foundations that include the Mile High United Way, The Denver Foundation, The Gates Family Foundation, Gary Community Investments, The Colorado Health Foundation, Bohemian Foundation, and Northern Trust Corporation, with the Urban Land Conservancy as an implementation partner. It is overseen by a governing board that includes homeowners and community members. ECLT is a public-private partnership that relies on capital subsidies and resources from a mix of sources, including the public sector. It is focused on acquiring or developing at least 700 permanently affordable homes and serving approximately 2,000 residents in its first five years, which would make it one of the largest community land trusts in Colorado and the country.
ECLT’s primary model is a “scattered site model” that has the flexibility to scale to any community at risk of gentrification and displacement. The way it works is that ECLT buys up properties and then sells the deeds to the houses on top of that land to income-qualified homeowners earning less than 80% of the area median income (currently $80K annual income for a four-person household in Jeffco). The land under each home is held in trust in perpetuity. Upon reselling the home, homeowners receive 25% of the home appreciation and must sell to an income-qualified buyer to ensure lasting affordability. This approach takes land appreciation out of the equation and enables perpetual affordability of the home. The properties are a combination of existing homes, renovated homes, and new builds.
ECLT has a new “Stay in Place Program” (SIPP) in west Denver designed for struggling homeowners to prevent foreclosure or displacement during the economic downturn from the pandemic. The SIPP allows homeowners to stay in their homes by restructuring their homeownership through the community land trust model. Homeowners can refinance into a new mortgage, enter into a land lease with ECLT, and use cash from the sale to pay down their mortgage or build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to generate additional income.
Currently, ECLT does not have any homes or projects in Jeffco. Early next year they will be meeting with the Jeffco County Commissioners, Foothills Regional Housing, MetroWest, and some mayors to discuss a regional approach in Jeffco.
Some ECLT projects and partnerships
In 2019, ECLT and the City of Aurora entered into a partnership to create permanently affordable homeownership opportunities over five years for at least 50 Aurora families living at or below 80% of the area median income. The partnership allows ECLT to acquire and remodel a mix of single-family homes, condominiums, and townhomes that can be purchased by qualifying Aurora residents. The partnership includes investments from the City of Aurora to ensure that the homes remain permanently affordable.
ECLT partners with municipalities to build affordable homes on city-owned land. In Fort Collins, 60 two-story townhomes are being built on land owned by the city. These townhomes are intended to be sold to families making at or below 80% of the area median income. Deeds will have income restrictions in place, so the units remain affordable as they are sold and resold. The state Division of Housing awarded $1.65M to ECLT for acquisition of the property. ECLT is also partnering with Housing Catalyst in Fort Collins to renovate 44 aging housing units to become permanently affordable.
ECLT has partnered with the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Pilot Program to assist moderate- and low-income qualified homeowners build an ADU on their residential property. Homeowners can leverage their current home equity to build a detached ADU for a rental unit or added living space that will increase total property value, build wealth, and provide monthly financial benefits.
ECLT purchased the land for 26 two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom homes in the Longmont Blue Vista neighborhood. They are offering all 26 homes for $220K to $225K, as opposed to market-rate homes that start at $340K. The homes include high-efficiency windows and appliances and low-flow faucets and toilets to improve sustainability and save residents on their utility bills. When sold, the homeowners will receive 25% of any appreciation and must sell to an income-qualified buyer to ensure lasting affordability.
Property owners sold 13 townhomes in Boulder’s Gunbarrel neighborhood to ECLT at a reduced price to make them permanently affordable. The townhomes will be renovated and converted to permanent affordable housing.
ECLT has partnered with the City of Denver to develop 92 affordable condominiums. The homes will be priced from $150K to $199K, include 64 studio homes, 24 two-bedroom homes and four three-bedroom homes, and will remain permanently affordable.
ECLT has partnered with the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) and developers to make 32 townhomes affordable in a mixed-income community. The Westminster Economic Development Authority sold the property to ULC for $1 to support their local affordable housing initiatives.
To learn more about how shared equity homeownership programs, including community land trusts, provide affordable homeownership to lower-income families generation after generation, read:
Tracking Growth and Evaluating Performance of Shared Equity Homeownership Programs During Housing Market Fluctuations
Denver’s low-income homeowners are losing ground, but policies can help stem that loss
Elevation Community Land Trust
Phone – 720.822.0052
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Website – https://www.elevationclt.org/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/elevationclt/