Land Trust helps State College residents obtain their American Dream

This is part of a weekly series that highlights an organization associated with the Foundation.

This is one of the dozens of homes that the State College Community Land Trust has helped provide to low-income families.

Owning a home is an integral part of the American Dream.

But many people find that part of the dream to be out of their reach.

That’s why, about 15 years ago, the State College Community Land Trust was created. It provides home ownership opportunities to people who want to find housing in the borough of State College, but are making no more than 80 percent of the area’s median income.  (That’s just north of $50,000 a year for a family of four.) The organization has helped 42 families find homes.

State College Community Land Trust Executive Director Ron Quinn has been involved with the organization since 2006, but his dedication to the cause goes back much further.

“I’ve been involved with housing-related issues for most of my working life. What I enjoy is seeing folks achieve what they’re looking for as far as finding a suitable home where they want to live,” Quinn said.

The Community Land Trust purchases local homes, makes sure they’re up to modern standards, and then sells them to eligible first-time home buyers. They keep the cost down for their clients by retaining ownership of the land that the house is built on.

“Typically, about a third of the cost of the property is land,” Quinn said.

Once the prospective homeowner receives credit approval from a bank, the organization enters into a 99-year land lease with the homeowner in which the homeowner has exclusive rights to the land. The lease also stipulates that when it comes time to sell the house, the occupants must sell it to another family or individual in need, ensuring the system continues in perpetuity.

Money from the State College Community Land Trust’s fund at the Centre County Community Foundation has been used for a variety of projects, including energy audits of homes and upgrades to make the homes more energy efficient.

“When you’re trying to save as much money as you can, that is a very helpful service that was provided,” Quinn said.

For more information about the State College Community Land Trust, and to read personal stories from some of the people they’ve helped, visit their website.

-Erin

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