On September 24, 2019, United Workers organized an event at 2424 McElderry St. to promote awareness of community land trusts and to show support for land trusts at a meeting of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) Commission. The first part of the event was a tour of green space and housing managed by Charm City Land Trusts. We saw gardens and a rowhome that Charm City Land Trusts completely renovated at a cost of about $110,000.
The second part of the event was to attend a meeting of the AHTF Commission being held at nearby Tench Tilghman Elementary School. Lawanda Williams (Healthcare for the Homeless) spoke about their “Housing First” approach to caring for their clients in which they seek to provide help finding housing as well as medical care for the homeless. Khalil Uqdah, Vice-President of Charm City Land Trusts, spoke about their work renovating rowhomes. It can take $150,000 to do the job right, including structural reinforcements like underpinning the basement. We expect about five million dollars to be in the Trust Fund account by the end of September. A commissioner asked what do nonprofits need to take on this scale of housing projects. A representative of the Northeast Housing Initiative said they need operational assistance. They have taken an abandoned rowhome, renovated it for about $128,000, sold it to a family for about $85,000, and that amounted to a monthly mortgage payment of about $500. By way of comparison, other families in the same neighborhood were paying $1400 rent for a barely habitable house. So a modest subsidy creates permanently affordable housing. One way the AHTF could help is to provide pre-deployment financing. A bank will typically loan 75% toward a renovation based on appraisal value. The AHTF could bridge that gap.