New housing model lands in Church Hill

Officials break ground on the 26th Street site, where construction was slated to begin Thursday. (Jonathan Spiers)

Officials break ground on the 26th Street site, where construction was slated to begin Thursday. (Jonathan Spiers)

A new-to-Richmond approach to facilitating homeownership while adding to the city’s housing stock is beginning to take shape in North Church Hill.

The nonprofit Maggie Walker Community Land Trust celebrated the groundbreaking of its first single-family home at a ceremony Thursday. The 1,600-square-foot home, to be built on a vacant lot at 1114 N. 26th St., is designed to provide permanent affordable housing through a “pay-it-forward” approach to help qualified owners build equity.

To make the home more affordable, the trust leases the land to an income-qualified homebuyer for little to no lease payments, and the buyer then only has to purchase the house. In exchange for the reduced price, the buyer agrees to keep only half the proceeds when it is later sold, while the remaining equity stays with the house to keep it affordable for the next qualified buyer.

Income-qualified buyers are those who make 50 to 115 percent of the area median income, which is $60,700, according to U.S. Census figures. Homebuyers will be qualified through and take homeownership classes from Housing Opportunities Made Equal.

With support from Bon Secours Richmond Health System and Virginia Credit Union, MWCLT purchased the 0.1-acre lot from the city last year for $40,000. By removing that cost from the overall price, the new house, valued at $235,000, will be sold for $195,000.

MWCLT is eyeing additional properties for homes, including at least two others in the Church Hill area. Virginia Credit Union is providing a $100,000 multiyear contribution to MWCLT and a $1 million line of credit to rehab properties.

Rendering of the planned 1,600-square-foot home at 1114 N. 26th St. (MWCLT)

Rendering of the planned 1,600-square-foot home at 1114 N. 26th St. (MWCLT)

The three-bedroom home will be built by Project:Homes, a housing nonprofit that has been active in the area through construction projects such as the nearby Church Hill Model Block, a collaboration with the Better Housing Coalition and Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. A BHC-backed home is next door to the 26th Street site.

Formed in late 2015, MWCLT is the first community land trust (CLT) in Richmond and the second in Virginia, out of more than 250 nationwide. The CLT model provides permanent affordable housing that helps families and individuals become homeowners.

Leading the nonprofit is Laura Lafayette, CEO of the Richmond Association of Realtors and Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing Service, who chairs the MWCLT board.

Other groups represented on the board include: Bon Secours Richmond, BHC, Project:Homes, Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity, RRHA, Urban Hope, Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corp., UR Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, Housing Opportunities Made Equal and Virginia Credit Union.

Also involved in the project is nonprofit Viridiant, which will work with Project:Homes to make the home green-building certified.

MWCLT is one of several efforts adding to the affordable housing stock in Church Hill and adjacent Union Hill. BHC plans to renovate the Citadel of Hope building on Venable Street in a project that would add 52 units on the property.

Also in the area, a project is underway to redevelop the old Armstrong High School into a mixed-income housing development. Called Church Hill North, the development will add 175 mixed-income and senior housing rental units.

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Brent Spencer
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Brent Spencer

$195,000 is NOT affordable housing. Knock it off.

Jason Musick
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Jason Musick

The median listing price for Richmond homes is $239,950. $195,000 is almost 20% below the average listing price. I’d say that’s a significant discount when considering the cost of buying a home.

Bryan Brodie
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Bryan Brodie

I agree with Brent. $60k / year is $5000 / month. Not many waitstaff or baristas or RPS teachers pulling down that kind of money.

And… not the greatest part of town to invest your money in.

It’s being run by realtors, not habitat for humanity. Who’s going to agree to such stipulations?

Discount does not equal affordable or even sensible.

Sara Richardson
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Sara Richardson

Bryan, the income bracket is actually to be 50%–110% of the median of $60K a year.A lot of teachers and others would fall into that window. And please–it would cost more to RENT a 3 bedroom house in Church Hill than it would to buy a new one at $200K amortized at 30 years at a reasonable interest rate. Seriously guys, the rental costs in Richmond have skyrocketed in the past decade.. Mortgage interest deductions and home ownership are a crucial part of how Americans can accumulate wealth in order to eventually transfer it–creating more opportunities for people to do… Read more »