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Culture

Affordable Housing Project Launches in Springfield

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L to R: SCLT Board Members Sheila Collins and Dana Elwell, City Planner Brendan Griesemer, and SCLT Coordinator LeeAnn Camey

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/affordable-housing-project-launches-springfield_54501.mp3

Community Partnership of the Ozarks and the City of Springfield have come together to create a new affordable housing program. The housing program is called the Springfield Community Land Trust, as KSMU’s Melanie Foehrweiser reports.

LeeAnn Camey is the coordinator of the Springfield Community Land Trust.

“The Springfield Community Land Trust is a non-profit that purchased homes that had been foreclosed and they are in center city Springfield, so we’re talking about older housing stock, and…[this is with] the intention of 'rehabbing' them and selling them to low to moderate income folks.”

Camey says the land trust also aims to create ongoing affordable and sustainable housing. Repairs are made on each house, and the homes are also made to be as energy efficient as possible before they're available to homebuyers. Camey says this is done by doing things like replacing windows and insulation, and replacing old appliances with energy-efficient models.

However, Camey explains that a land trust is not the same as normal home ownership.

“A land trust will have houses to sell for people to buy, but it maintains ownership of the land. That’s what helps sustain the program and keep it affordable.”

Camey says buying through the land trust reduces housing costs by at least 20 percent. The land trust also requires a down payment that is much less than a private homebuyer would pay.

Patricia Deck is a recent land trust homebuyer.

“I do not believe I would have been able to afford a home…to purchase a home, that I have so much faith in. Something that is of high quality and I feel that I’m not going to have to sink a lot into updating or repairs. I would’ve been hard pressed, especially to come up with the traditional down payment that’s needed in the regular market.”

Deck says the process of buying a home through the land trust was quick. It took her 60 days from the time she applied to the time she closed on her house. She describes her buying experience as “amazing.”

“I was supported every step of the way by the Land Trust Board in order to be able to purchase my house. Any time I had questions or concerns they were there to answer them for me.”

Deck is a first time home buyer, and says the land trust made what seemed like an overwhelming and intimidating process easy.

To qualify for a home through the Springfield Community Land Trust, applicants must make 120 percent or less of the median income for their household size, and have a credit score of at least 640. But, Camey says applicants who do not meet the requirements right now should not be discouraged.

“We want to work with folks on that too. If they have some hits on their credit we’re partnered with Consumer Credit Counseling Services and if it’s their desire to own a home, then we want to help them get to that point” says Camey.

The land trust was created using Neighborhood Stabilization money, which the City of Springfield applied for from the state.

For more information and a link to the land trust application, click here.

For KSMU News, I’m Melanie Foehrweiser.