Finding a reasonably priced home in State College is harder than ever. June is National Homeownership Month, and here at the State College Community Land Trust, homeownership is what we do.
Take a moment to consider all the ways that higher homeownership rates benefit both the owner and the community:
▪ Homeownership is the key to building wealth.
▪ Homeowners move less frequently than renters do, making it easier to build community networks and support systems.
▪ Children in stable housing situations have better educational outcomes.
▪ Homeownership offers tremendous freedom to create the living environment that you have always wanted.
▪ Homeowners are more likely to become involved in their local community (school board members, community volunteers).
▪ Owning a home stabilizes housing costs — no more rent increases.
▪ Living near where you work reduces commuting time and stress.
Homeownership rate and the barriers in place to increase the rate:
▪ The national homeownership rate is 63.7 percent, which is the lowest it has been since 1965.
▪ Many renters and homeowners pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing, leaving little money left for much else.
▪ Homeownership rates have declined most significantly in households of color and low- or moderate-income families
The barriers to many households are:
▪ Lack of down payment money
▪ Lower incomes
▪ Increasing student loan, medical and other debt
▪ Escalating housing prices
▪ Harder to get credit
▪ Fewer affordable units available
The State College Community Land Trust has been “Building Community through Homeownership” for the past 21 years. The local financial landscape has changed dramatically during that time, but the benefits to the community and to the homeowners have stayed constant, or even increased. The SCCLT has helped more than 60 households achieve their home ownership goals.
How it works:
A one-time public investment makes a home affordable for purchase by working households with modest means. Each buyer receives budget and homebuyer education, and obtains a traditional mortgage with a lending institution.
In return for being able to buy a home below its market-rate value, the household agrees to limit their proceeds when they sell, so that another mortgage-ready buyer with a modest income can afford to purchase the home.
The first household builds wealth and then “pays it forward.” The affordable house is self-sustaining, and the use of public funds is prudent since that one-time public investment serves an endless number of families, and the community too.
Owning a SCCLT home is often cheaper than renting, and our owners have never gone to foreclosure. Our program works! Visit our website, www.scclandtrust.org, for more details.
Colleen Ritter is the SCCLT executive director and Susan Venegoni is the president of SCCLT’s board of directors.