City of Columbia plans on community land trust

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia is in the process of forming a Community Land Trust for residents. The city has been talking about the community land trust for almost 10 years, and it has decided to take action this year. Community leaders brought up the trust at the affordable housing symposium in December.

"The most beneficial aspect is that the houses that we build for affordable housing will stay affordable forever." Second Ward Council Member, Michael Trapp, said.

Community land trust is a model where city-sponsored community land trust organizations maintain the ownership of the land underneath the house, the structure itself is sold to qualified buyers.

"It allows when that property is resold to stay with a qualified home buyer. It also allows the price to be dramatically reduced, since they are not including the price of the land, and only including the price of the structure," said Randy Cole, Columbia housing program supervisor.

The city has hired an expert consultant that will be coming on March 7-8 and work for about six to nine months to assist with assessing feasibility and setting up operations. 

"After his initial report, then we’ll decide if it’s really truly the road that we want go down or if we should consider other options," Trapp said.

Trapp said the first community land trust meeting will be next month, and they will invite people from diverse groups.

"There’s gonna be folks represent the neighborhood, and folks represent the city, and folks who understand banking and folks who understand housing maintenance," Trapp said.

The first project for the city's community land trust is building four houses on Lynn Street. Cole said there is $200,000 funding for this first project that has come from general fund savings from the city's general revenue funds.

Pat Fowler is a Columbia resident who lived in a home similar to the community land trust model.  

“As soon as I hear with their interest was, which was separate the land ownership from the house ownership, I got pretty excited about the idea,” Fowler said. 

Cole is concerned with the community learning about the community land trust idea.

“It’s not a new way for doing affordable housing, but it’s unfamiliar to a lot of the population, so I think it’s really important as a city in the community that we fully examine and educate ourselves on the community land trust,” Cole said.