TAMPA, Florida. – Finding affordable housing is so difficult that Hillsborough County’s executives are looking for a creative solution to help residents out.
The commissioners set up a common land trust that enables the county to buy land, build housing and ensure affordable prices.
âI think our challenge is that there is no panacea or magic pill that will solve the problem. What we need instead is a toolbox of options, âsaid Commissioner Harry Cohen.
The commissioners, with the help of the Florida Housing Coalition, approved $ 750,000 to set up the public-private program for three years.
âA community land trust makes housing affordable over the long term,â said Jaimie Ross, CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition. “Almost everywhere in the state real estate prices, home ownership prices and real estate prices are higher than ever before.”
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Ross said a Community Land Trust (CLT) is separating the land from the homes it sits on. The program will allow the county to buy land and then work with a property developer to build homes for income-earning families that they can rent or buy. A community land trust could also enable the county to buy and renovate an existing building.
âSo it offers a way out of renting and a kind of step into your own home. That way, the CLT owner can save and plan, âsaid Ross.
The district leaders said the lack of affordable housing is a crisis and there is no single solution to the problem.
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“This could be a tool to help people get into the housing market just enough less than it would cost with a traditional approach,” Cohen said.
The commissioners will come up with a plan in the next month or two, then find the land and develop it. Community land trusts are gaining ground across Florida, and Ross said she was glad it offered another option for families.
âSo a Community Land Trust is a tool in the toolbox for affordable housing. So it’s not that it’ll solve all affordable housing problems, âsaid Ross. “But it is this extremely important tool.”