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Single parent now homeowner thanks to land trust
New home on Forest Ridge Road purchased through community land trust home, February 6, 2017
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Credit: Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow
This home on Forest Ridge Road was purchased with help from the community land trust
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Sean Tubbs | Monday, February 06, 2017 at 10:06 p.m.

An area teacher is celebrating six weeks of homeownership thanks to assistance provided by the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust.

Affordable housing in Charlottesville is not easily happening for a single parent,” said Paola Cristy, who moved into her own home on Forest Ridge Road just before Christmas after several years of looking for a place for her and her young daughter to call their own.

“They own the land and we own the house,” Cristy said. “We went in jointly to do all the paperwork.”

The purchase of the property closed in November with a sales price of $222,130, as recorded by the court.

The land trust was formed in 2008 and has an ambitious goal to purchase more land to help more people afford their own homes. This is the eighth lot owned by the organization and the sixth to be occupied.

“The goals for 2017 are to continue to raise awareness of the TJCLT in order to raise the funds needed to acquire new properties,” said Greg Slater, a Realtor with Nest Realty who also sits on the land trust’s board.

The Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust had received $54,801 in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s community development block grant program to help purchase property for a first-time homebuyer.

That means Cristy’s mortgage is based on the value of the house and not the land.

The lower amount made it easier for her to qualify for a mortgage based on her annual income of $30,500. That equates to around 48 percent of the area median income for a single-earner household with one child.

The hope had been to spend $49,401 on the Forest Ridge Road lot and to use the rest for administrative costs. However, the total price of the home and land increased and the land trust needed to use all the funding for the purchase.

To make up the difference, the land trust asked the city for help.

On Monday, the City Council approved an allocation of $4,595 from the city’s affordable housing fund to cover administrative costs associated with the purchase.

“The purchase of the Forest Ridge property has contributed to the city’s affordable housing goal with an affordability period of 15 years in addition to the 90-year lease required by the [land trust],” said Stacy Pethia, the city’s housing coordinator.

Most of the administrative costs covered the removal of lead paint in the home, which was built in 1956.

Cristy learned of the opportunity through a neighbor in her former neighborhood who also had qualified for a land trust home.

“That’s how they purchased their home and they were nice enough to tell us when the next opportunity came up,” Cristy said.

Cristy previously had applied for housing though Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville but she said they generally only develop attached housing, and she wanted a yard for her 7-year-old daughter to play in. An added bonus is the property is adjacent to Forest Hills Park.

Cristy said the process takes longer than most other home purchases because of the many steps needed to satisfy federal requirements.

“We found a house in the beginning … and the Realtor was nice,” Cristy said. However, the sellers needed to close quickly and that opportunity was lost.

Her house has had sewer issues since Cristy moved in, and remediation assistance was provided by the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program.

Cristy said she hopes more financial institutions will be willing to take a risk on home purchases involving the land trust.

Meanwhile the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust has a strategic goal of buying six new properties for similar purchases this year but needs donations to make that happen.

“We are currently seeking funds to utilize a $100,000 matching grant,” Slater said.

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