Melanie MartinezNobody plans on becoming a single mother of two young children and having to move back in with her parents. But when it happened to Melanie, a college graduate and teacher, she assumed she could quickly buy a home of her own.

Not so. Melanie soon realized that the homes she could afford were either in disrepair or unsafe. Since she was unwilling to put her children in that type of environment, she and the kids had to stay at “Grandma’s house.” That is, until Melanie discovered the Pima County Community Land Trust (PCCLT).

“I thank God that PCCLT made it possible for me to purchase a safe home that was also affordable,” says Melanie. “My boys are happy, sleeping and behaving better. We are proud to have a home of our own.” Melanie is one of the 37 percent of PCCLT home buyers who are single moms.

She bought her completely rehabilitated home in 2014 from PCCLT, which also provides ongoing support to their homeowners.

“We’re the developer that never goes away,” says Maggie Amado-Tellez, PCCLT Executive Director. The nonprofit was founded in 2010 to permanently steward land for the benefit of the community, preserve the affordability of housing on the land, and continually support and educate homeowners.

What Makes a PCCLT Home Affordable?

Community land trusts operate on a unique model where they buy the underlying land and either build new or rehabilitate existing homes to sell to qualified buyers. Since buyers only purchase the home and not the underlying land (they lease the land from PCCLT on a 99-year inheritable ground lease), the cost of a PCCLT home is significantly less than what a person would pay for a comparable house in the same neighborhood. Additionally, a discounted mortgage of between 80-85% of the purchase price (leasehold value) is accepted, further improving the affordability by keeping the monthly payments low.

If homeowners choose to sell, they earn a portion of the increased property value. The remainder of the equity is kept in the home in the form of a reduced purchase price and loan, keeping the home affordable for each subsequent homebuyer.

Ultimately, by separating the ownership of land and housing, community land trusts prevent market factors from causing prices to rise significantly. That means housing remains affordable for responsible people who need a little help to own a home of their own.

Pima County Community Land Trust

In addition to growing their affordable home ownership program, PCCLT is creating affordable rental housing to help people not yet ready for home ownership so that they can learn how to save and repair their credit.