Reinvestment Fund is financing an innovative for-sale housing project that is utilizing a community land trust model to preserve long term affordability in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Philadelphia.
The five single family rowhome project is being developed by Community Justice Land Trust (CJLT), a nonprofit sponsored by Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP), a long-standing community-based organization. While WCRP has developed hundreds of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) units, this is WCRP’s first homeownership project. It is also the first project to utilize a land trust model for homeownership in Philadelphia—a model that other local organizations are also interested in exploring.
The community land trust model ensures permanent affordability by developing the homes on land held by a nonprofit. In this development, WCRP has a renewable 99-year ground lease on this last publicly held vacant parcel of land in the rapidly growing neighborhood. Homeowners will have a limit on how much they can sell the homes for, ensuring the homes remain affordable for other families of similar income.
Named for a neighborhood leader in community organizing, the Mamie Nichols Townhomes will be sold to buyers with annual incomes that do not exceed 80% of area median income ($72,100 for a family of four in Philadelphia). This sale price is about half the cost of similarly sized homes available in the neighborhood, which has experienced rapid price appreciation in the last few years. WCRP also plans to provide down payment assistance, which may make it possible for families with lower incomes to purchase these homes. The homes are adjacent to an LIHTC project WCRP will develop on the same parcel of land.
WCRP is partnering with longtime Reinvestment Fund borrower Innova Service Corp. to develop the homes. Innova has developed several dozen units for affordable homeownership in the Point Breeze neighborhood since 2009, many of which Reinvestment Fund-financed.
WCRP received an Affordable Housing Program grant awarded by Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and Fulton Bank, and to keep the project on schedule, Reinvestment Fund’s financing is also bridging the receipt of this grant award.
Established in 1987 to improve the housing, economic and social conditions of women with low-income and their families, WCRP has developed a dozen separate LIHTC projects, some scattered site redevelopment, and a childcare center. WCRP is the lead organizer for the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities, which includes 68 Community Development Corporations, disability rights organizations, tenant organizations, neighborhood organizations, legal services organizations, and other advocacy groups. The Coalition’s current campaign, Development without Displacement, is working to prevent the displacement of residents in rapidly growing neighborhoods by successfully advocating for the passage of laws that create new resources for affordable housing and other community uses.
There are 225 operating land trusts in the United States. CJLT is one of only two land trusts operating in Philadelphia.