Housing

Houston Community Land Trust awarded $5 million by MacKenzie Scott

Under the organization, homebuyers will pay what they can afford and grant assistance covers remaining costs.

A home purchased through the Houston Community Land Trust, a nonprofit organization created in 2018 that aims to make homeownership affordable for low-income households, sits in Acres Homes in Houston, on Dec. 14, 2022. Despite its goal of creating more than 1,000 permanently affordable homes in five years, the land trust has only 136 homes in its portfolio so far. The city of Houston has cut its funding significantly.
Callaghan O'Hare for The Texas Tribune
A home purchased through the Houston Community Land Trust, a nonprofit organization created in 2018 that aims to make homeownership affordable for low-income households, sits in Acres Homes in Houston, on Dec. 14, 2022. Despite its goal of creating more than 1,000 permanently affordable homes in five years, the land trust has only 136 homes in its portfolio so far. The city of Houston has cut its funding significantly.

The Houston Community Land Trust landed a $5 million grant from MacKenzie Scott, a California-based novelist and philanthropist, the organization announced on Monday.

Ashley Allen, executive director of the nonprofit organization said Monday that the funding will allow Houston Community Land Trust to take affordable housing research and development to the next level and will enable the organization to explore other affordable housing options like tiny houses.

The grant is unrestricted, meaning the nonprofit can use those dollars as they see fit, Allen said.

“Actual affordable tiny homes or small footprint homes might be something people are interested in,” Allen said.

The $5 million grant from Scott is just one of dozens more million-dollar grants that Scott has dedicated to nationwide nonprofits recently. Scott has dedicated more than $14.1 billion to at least 1,621 charities since 2020, according to Fortune.

A community land trust refers to a nonprofit organization that own land and typically dedicates that land to flourishing affordable housing, and other community developments, according to Center for Community Land Trust Innovation.

Before the recent grant, the nonprofit was financially restricted to only cover single family housing. Those dollars will enable to organization to explore more affordable housing options like tiny homes and commercial properties.

“CLT housing is not just limited to single family housing,” Allen said.

Houston Community Land Trust has been at the forefront of the affordable housing market since 2018. They aim to make affordable homeownership achievable for limited-income families by connecting homebuyers with affordable homes in neighborhoods across the city.

Through the organization, homebuyers contribute what they can afford to their home purchase, and grant assistance helps cover the remaining costs. Houston Community Land Trust places the land of a home “in trust,” and homeowners join others who share land ownership with the community land trust.

The minimum contribution in the deal is $70,000, but it may be higher depending on the home-owner’s income level.

The city allocated $60 million total to the land trust between 2018 and 2021, The Houston Chronicle reported.

Property taxes remain low and affordable under the trust amid a rising housing market, and the homeowner has exclusive use of the land under a 99-year ground lease.

“We are excited to be able to test the model different ways here in Houston,” Allen said.