Verde Valley Housing Alliance (VVHA)

The Verde Valley Housing Alliance (VVHA) as originally conceived has officially become a project initiative of the Verde Valley Community Development Organization (VVCDO). It is designed to fill gaps in our region’s housing needs. The Verde Valley Housing Alliance works with governmental bodies, nonprofit organizations, housing developers, and individuals to launch critical programs to address regional needs.

Our flagship program is the creation of a Community Land Trust (CLT). Communities across the nation use CLTs to create a bank of permanently affordable housing for local residents who would otherwise be priced out of the market.

CLTs use a variety of strategies but are best known for “land-lease sales,” wherein residents can purchase homes on affordable terms while leasing the land on which the home is built. When the home is sold, the owners make a fair return on their investment while the property remains affordable for future owners.
The goal of the CLT is to ensure a community in which teachers, firefighters, young families, and others can afford to live. Not only can a CLT provide access to first homes, but it allows homeowners to build equity, providing a pathway to exit the housing assistance system.

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Why did the Verde Valley Community Development Organization (VVCDO) focus on housing as its highest priority?

Our region’s housing shortage affects all Verde Valley residents either directly or indirectly. Housing affects health outcomes, educational outcomes, and intersects with issues such as domestic violence and hunger. There are few issues that touch so many areas of community wellbeing. Housing is perhaps the single biggest impediment to regional economic development and household economic stability. Our region has lost thousands of working-age individuals over the past decade, including essential professionals like teachers, nurses, and law enforcement officers. At the same time, an unprecedented number of working people and families are living in their vehicles. We must act, and we must act now to reverse these trends.

What is the purpose and long-term vision of the Verde Valley Housing Alliance (VVHA)?

The Verde Valley Housing Alliance is a specialized advisory group within the VVCDO dedicated to tackling regional housing needs with decisive action. Our group of public and private experts and stakeholders believes it is time to stop talking and start doing. We envision a thriving, economically diverse local community, where residents of every income level have access to housing that does not exceed 30% of household income.

Why do we need a regional housing group?

Some housing needs are best tackled by individual municipalities while others require a collaborative regional approach. The VVHA is a tool for local governments, developers, and other stakeholders to create regional-scale solutions for regional-scale housing issues. Together, we identify and address projects that will have the biggest regional impact. We are also in a position to create housing in unincorporated areas.

How will the VVHA address our region’s housing crisis?

Our flagship program will be the launch of a Community Land Trust for the purpose of creating a bank of permanently affordable housing and wider access to homeownership. Simultaneously, we will serve as a clearinghouse for regional housing service information and engage in advocacy on behalf of the Verde Valley, driving more federal, state, and private sector funding to our rural area.

Why does the Verde Valley need a Community Land Trust (CLT)?

Communities throughout the state, from Flagstaff to Tucson, have created CLTs as an important part of the solution to local housing crises. CLTs are unique in the sense that they create a bank of permanently affordable homes. Investments in CLTs are recycled over and over to benefit the community, unlike most private affordable housing developments that revert to market rate pricing. We believe that rural communities like the Verde Valley should not be excluded from this effective strategy. By pooling our resources and providing regional-scale administration, we can bring the benefits of a CLT to residents of our region. This is a large-scale program that, in our rural area, requires pooled resources and regional administration for impact.

What do Community Land Trusts (CLTs) do?

CLTs own land on behalf of the community for the purpose of creating a reserve of permanently affordable housing. CLTs can preserve existing housing or can develop new housing. They can rent units or they can sell homes via “land-lease” agreements. The “land lease” purchase option is a unique agreement in which a first-time homeowner only needs to qualify for the price of the built structure of the home, not the land. The land remains in the possession of the CLT and is leased for 99-year terms. This results in a much lower down payment and lower mortgage bills. When the home is sold, the land trust can create a new land-lease agreement with a new purchaser, keeping the property affordable in perpetuity. This arrangement allows the owner to start building equity to the point that they no longer need housing assistance.

Will banks lend on homes with leased land in the Community Land Trust (CLT)?

Yes. Most major banks will lend to individuals with steady income and good credit, just as in traditional homeownership scenarios. The CLT can also connect potential buyers with homeownership counseling and downpayment assistance programs.

If I donate property to the Community Land Trust (CLT), how will I know it will be cared for by successive homeowners?

The CLT model is a tried-and-true strategy for creating permanent banks of affordable housing. Just as in traditional homeownership situations, owners have incentive to maintain and improve the property to secure equity value. Across the nation and around the world, owners of land-leased homes have shown great responsibility in caring for the properties. In addition, purchase contracts contain stipulations regarding upkeep standards.

Is the Verde Valley Community Development Organization a governmental organization?

No. We are an independent nonprofit organization with a Board of Directors that represents a diverse cross-section of the community. Various municipalities participate in the planning and funding of regional projects along with other supporters from the private sector. We rely upon the support of a caring community.

How can I make a donation to support the Verde Valley Housing Alliance (VVHA) and the Verde Valley Community Development Organization (VVCDO)?

We deeply appreciate our founding donors who are making this important work possible. Donations can be made to the VVCDO with a note informing us that the donation is to be used for the VVHA program. Our Tax ID number is 86-2451065.

How can I learn more about the Verde Valley Housing Alliance (VVHA) and the Community Land Trust (CLT)?

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