COLUMBIA — City-owned property on Lynn Street that will be developed as affordable housing will be transferred to the Columbia Community Land Trust after the Columbia City Council approved the deal Tuesday night.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the arrangement. Council members praised plans for the Lynn Street properties, saying the project will be important to the effort to increase affordable housing in the central city.
"I do think it's a significant movement to start creating permanent affordability. It's a critical stepping stone to climbing out of poverty," Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas said. "I'm excited to support this ordinance."
First Ward Councilman Clyde Ruffin thinks the agreement would not only impact the buyers, but the community as a whole. He believes the safety the affordable homes would give will have generational benefits and will "restore a sense of hope to the community."
The Columbia Community Land Trust is a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing to people with low- to moderate incomes. It was formed by the City Council in September, and board members were appointed in November.
Plans call for building four cottage-style single-family homes along Lynn Street at an expected cost of $591,000. The city budgeted $200,000 toward the development of the homes, $10,000 of which is for first-year operations.
Lynn Street Cottages will be energy-efficient and universally designed. The construction costs include $40,000 per cottage to install solar systems in each home.
Construction on the cottages is scheduled to start between April and June, Community Development Director Tim Teddy said. He said the plan is to have the houses move-in ready by this time next year.
Prospective buyers can expect to own the homes but lease the land, which would continue to be owned by the land trust, Teddy said. That arrangement is intended to keep the price of the homes cheaper if and when they are resold.
Dan Cullimore, a board member of the Columbia Community Land Trust, said both homeowners and the land trust will gain equity from the resale of the cottages. He thinks that will allow lower-class buyers to take steps toward becoming middle-class.
"It needs to be supported," Cullimore said.
Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala believes the dual equity gain will be a "win-win situation we all seek."
Community Development staff will also provide a range of services to the Community Land Trust, including daily supervision of operations and marketing for three years without charge.
If homes don't sell, the city will be reimbursed $10,000 for each home, but housing program specialist Randy Cole said he doesn't believe that will happen.
Cole said many people have expressed interest in the property, which makes him confident the houses will sell.
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