Affordable housing is aim of Oberlin community land trust

A $14,105 grant will help Oberlin address affordable housing needs through the formation of a community land trust — particularly the needs of seniors.

Land trusts are a way to foster affordability in neighborhoods with a shortage of housing stock for low to moderate income residents. A nonprofit, often community controlled, owns and maintains the land, and residents can purchase a more moderately priced house on top of the land.

“This project is a way that we, as a community foundation, are helping our communities build capacity to benefit all residents. It’s a vehicle that potentially could provide affordable housing for folks that want to and need to live in their homes and their communities,” said Brian Frederick, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Lorain County.

Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland will provide consulting and related start-up services for the planning, organization, and development of a trust in Oberlin.

The project grew out of two initiatives in Oberlin over the past year.

The city of Oberlin had a comprehensive community housing market study conducted for the Oberlin community. The study identified gaps in the availability of rental and for-sale housing for lower to moderate income families. The study also noted that while Oberlin’s population is stable and slowly rising, the number of African-American families is dropping.

Another concern was the lack of housing suitable to low and moderate income seniors. Oberlin’s existing older housing stock is not easily adapted to seniors with increasing mobility challenges.

Concurrent with the city’s housing market study, a small group of residents began researching the possibilities of a community land trust. The group approached Neighborhood Housing Services to explore a start-up.

There are five land trusts in Ohio.

Staff Report