The idea is relatively simple: you buy a home, you pay for it, and it becomes yours in time. But today’s reality is much more complicated. Many families have purchased homes that they can no longer pay for. Blue papers are plastering homes throughout St. Paul—many of these, especially in Frogtown, were owned by Hmong people. This means that there are many Hmong families without homes right now; there are many families in need of affordable housing options.
The Rondo Community Land Trust (Rondo CLT) is a nonprofit that seeks to provide “permanently affordable housing for low and moderate-income, multi-generational households” through the idea of a land trust. Established in 1993, the organization has expanded its services throughout St. Paul and into Suburban Ramsey County. It is a legitimate organization with funding from foundations and state and federal grants. Rondo CLT partners with community organizations like Greater Frogtown Community Development Center (GFCDC) to help families achieve safe housing.
This is the exciting part 1: The Land Trust Model.
You want to buy a home for your family. You don’t have enough money for the closing costs. You can go to Rondo CLT. They use a model that is popular in parts of Asia and in big cities like New York City: where you buy the home and they buy the land. It makes use of a contract called a Ground Lease, a 99-year renewable agreement that will allow you additional dollars to make the home purchase, full rights and responsibilities to the home and the land, but for one thing: w hen you sell the home, you must agree to sell it to another low-to-moderate income family for an affordable price (the original purchase price and 25 % of any appreciation in the home’s value). This allows you the following:
• Homeownership benefits: tax benefits on mortgage interest paid, stability of housing costs through a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, control of your housing, 100% of your principle paid and the right to pass the home to your heirs.
But more importantly, it allows you to become an active participant in community efforts to prioritize the housing needs of low and moderate income families
This is the exciting part 2: The Homebuyer Initiated Program (HIP).
Rondo CLT is introducing a program that will allow households (low-to-moderate income) who qualify up to $50,000 in grant money to buy homes currently open in the real estate market and fix it up. You don’t have to pay anything back, but the home becomes a part of the Rondo CLT homes. *For families in Public Housing or with Section 8 Vouchers, there’s a complementary program called HIP/HOP to facilitate home ownership.
This is not a good program for individuals who are interested in housing for investment purposes. This is a working program for families who need affordable housing and are willing and ready to look at new options.
You can visit the Rondo CLT website to learn much more: www.rondoclt.org. The organization has Hmong interpreters available to answer your questions. If you want more specific details, you can contact them at:
Rondo Community Land Trust
626 Selby Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104