Community Land Trust Listening Sessions

Tuesday, June 27th:

6-8 p.m. St. Paul's Catholic Church Pine Bluffs, WY

Thursday, June 29th:

6-8 p.m. Laramie County Library Sunflower Room, Cheyenne, WY

Thursday, July 6th:

6-8 p.m. Eppson Center, Laramie, WY


Equity Housing for Workforce Families throughout Laramie County Wyoming

The availability and affordability of housing in Laramie County is a challenge. Without affordable housing the workforce cannot grow and so development opportunities go to other communities where housing is more affordable and there is a larger employment base.

The Wyoming Community Development Authority has published the 2017 Wyoming Housing Needs Forecast and presents the following profile for Laramie County.

Housing Forecast

Using the Moderate Growth Scenario, (versus Strong Growth and Very Strong) the research proposes Laramie County shelter will grow by 2,764 units between 2015 and 2020.  This represents the construction of 1,584 houses and 1,180 rental units.  The housing model plans for 464 homes to be built for households whose income is 0 to 80% of the area medium income (AMI).  The current AMI for Laramie County is $61,496. These homes would be built for families with incomes of $49,197 or less. The remaining housing stock of 1,120 units will be built for those with incomes of 81% of AMI or higher. Rental development projection is for 748 units for households 0 to 80% AMI and 432 units to be built for households whose income is 81% and above of the Laramie County AMI.

Households at Risk

Laramie County has several household populations that are at risk.  Of the 37,294 households in Laramie County, 1440 are on supplemental social security income, 502 on cash/public assistance and 2,882 are on food stamps/SNAP. Potential vulnerable populations also include 3,985 elderly age 65 and over who live alone, 2,756 families who are led by a single female and 1,582 single female households with children under 18.

Housing Affordability

Housing affordability places serious stress on a household’s ability to stretch wages to cover all the essential bases. In Laramie County, 4,139 homeowners (24.7%) are required to use more than 30% of their income for shelter. For renters, 4,582 (39.3%) are using more than 30% of their income for shelter. (Mortgage payments average $1408 and rent $838 per month.) Combined, 30.7% of all homeowners and renters are experiencing a housing cost burden. In 2016, the median home value was $192,470.

Community Land Trust as a Solution

Using 30% as the “safe” measure to apply to affordable housing, the average Laramie County household needs an annual income of $57,741 to afford the average $192,470 home. (This is 94% of the AMI.)

However, more than four out of every ten Laramie County Households have an income of $50,000 or less. ($50,000 represents slightly more than 80% area median income)

Across the United States, a new form of property ownership promotes community stewardship of land and long term affordability of housing. A Community Land Trust, or CLT, is defined by the following components.

  • A nonprofit community-based organization obtains one or more parcels of land and permanently removes the land from the private real estate market. The land is held in trust and managed on behalf of the community members.
  • Families can purchase homes built on the land trust.  Homeowners build equity by making payments on their home.  The homeowners own the building/improvements, while the land trust owns the land.
  • Families can sell their homes back to the land trust organization, at which time they become available to new owners.
  • Areas of the land trust can be used for recreation, entertainment, food production, and onsite community services.
  • The governing board of the organization includes those who own homes on the land trust.  

A Community Land Trust promotes affordability by separating the cost of developed land from the building of the structure on the land. (Today, development ready land represents about 25% of the investment and construction about 75%) If the community land trust owns 25% of the $192,470, ($48,117) then the median value of the home drops to $144,353. This means that a household with an income of $43,346 could safely acquire the “average” home.

Further Community Subsidy

If a further forgivable subsidy such as the Wyoming Family Home Ownership Program second mortgage of $12,400 where to be included, the housing costs would further decline to 131,953. This further adjustment represents affordability of a home for a household with an income of $39,586 or 64% of the area median income.  This land trust example, together with the WYFHOP forgivable second loan has reduced the cost of the average $192,470 home from 94% area median income to 64% area median income!    

Rentals and CLT

While more complex, a Community Land Trust can also work for lower income rental housing provided the cash flow is sufficient to meet financing obligations.  Assuming a comparable reduction in rental costs, today’s average rent of $838 could be reduced to $628, a monthly savings of $210. A portion of this savings could then be applied by the renter to savings for future acquiring their own home in the CLT. 

CLT’s in the United States

A Community Land Trust (CLT) is effective in preserving land permanently for the common good. CLTs exist in over 250 communities in the U.S.  CLTs are committed to stewardship of the land to be used for housing in perpetuity.  Perpetual affordability provides housing at a lower price initially, and again at the time of resale, as the property is sold back to the non-profit. The initial homeowner makes a reasonable gain, and the non-profit for the second time is able to make the residence available to a new homeowner at a substantially lower price than if the buyer had to purchase both the land and the build.

WYFHOP Plan

WYFHOP plans to proceed by exploring community land trust by conducting three community listening sessions.  The first listening session is scheduled for June 27 from 6 to 8 PM at St Paul’s Catholic Church in Pine Bluffs. The Cheyenne hearing is scheduled for June 29 from 6 to 8 PM in the Library’s Sunflower Room. A final listening session will be conducted in Laramie on July 6 at the Eppson Center, again from 6 to 8 PM.

In July, Grounded Solutions Network Inc. a national expert in CLTs, is scheduled to come to Cheyenne to conduct a professional assessment of our approach and capacity. Grounded Solutions will provide a written report and roadmap on how to proceed.  Jane Harrington, the Executive Director for the Colorado Community Land Trust will lead the Grounded Solutions Team in their visit to Cheyenne which is tentatively scheduled for July 19-20th.

WYFHOP plans to collaborate to develop the Community Land Trust.  We plan to work with the Wyoming Business Council, local government other members of the Housing Action Team and a developer experienced in successfully building and maintaining land trusts.   

Should you have any questions, please contact Terry Williams or Mary Ellen Sternitzke at the WYFHOP Office, 307-514-5831.

Thank you!