“Clients say shared equity housing allows them to stay in their communities.
As communities across the country work toward more affordable housing opportunities for lower-income first-time homebuyers, NeighborWorks America is helping find innovative solutions by reviving the time-tested concept of shared equity housing with new approaches and training.
“There are a range of models that because of the shared structure they have, allow a lower-income family or a family that has some obstacles to traditional home ownership to become homeowners,” says Shanti Abedin, NeighborWorks’ director of shared equity housing.
The concept of shared equity itself isn’t new, Abedin says, noting that co-ops date to colonial times and that community land trusts came about in the Civil Rights Era when civil rights leaders realized that collective land ownership gave them a voice. NeighborWorks America network organizations have been using shared equity models for decades. But with a new congressional appropriation, NeighborWorks America is helping to scale the model nationally.
NeighborWorks has now awarded 50 capacity-building and capital grants to network organizations, totaling $2.6 million. An additional $1.2 million in grants will be awarded by the end of the 2022 fiscal year. Four organizations have been supported with customized evaluation services to capture shared resident outcomes. NeighborWorks has developed four courses on shared equity models.
NeighborWorks Montana used the grant to produce newly branded materials to help people understand the concept of shared equity.
A first-time homebuyer in Chelsea, MA.
“The NeighborWorks America grant gave NWMT the funds we needed to provide staffing capacity, conduct initial due diligence, and work with an attorney to explore viable ownership structures,” says NWMT Executive Director Kaia Peterson. “For our planning projects we were able to collaborate with the statewide community land trust organization Trust Montana to develop professional education and outreach materials to better reach private sector stakeholders including lenders, realtors, appraisers, title companies, and attorneys.”
The Housing Development Fund, a NeighborWorks network organization in Stamford, Connecticut is using a NeighborWorks grant to develop a community land trust. It purchased a property and created new condos for first-time homebuyers. The community land trust ensures the development will always be protected for affordable housing.
“We have two clients that they have been my clients for a little over 10 years, and this is the opportunity that they’ve been waiting for, because there isn’t that much inventory that is affordable for clients,” says Roxana Ubillis, HDF’s director of homebuyer development. “I have one client telling me, ‘I finally know that I will be able to stay in my community where I was born and raised.’ I have clients telling me that they didn’t want to change schools for their children, and this would provide stability for their children.”
The HDF development has 23 shared equity units, and there are approximately 3,000 others in the NeighborWorks network. With additional appropriations, NeighborWorks will continue helping its network with innovative shared equity approaches.
“I see shared equity as a solution that works within the system,” Abedin says. “This is sort of like a hack that allows you to access homeownership by leveraging the power of community.”