Breaking new ground

Construction on Minot’s first Community Land Trust home is expected to start next week, weather permitting.

RAK Construction, a Minnesota company, is general contractor.

Carrie Welnel with Minot Housing Authority, executive director of the nonprofit Minot CLT, said the first project will be an 1,160-square-foot, two-bedroom house with garage and covered porch at 218-19th St. SE, near the fairgrounds. The property had gone through the 2011 flood and the original house has been removed.

The CLT bought the lot for just over $29,000 through the City of Minot, using funds from the city’s $2 million state Rebuild and Retain grant.

Under a CLT, a nonprofit organization owns the land but does not own or operate the housing. The house to be built will be sold to a buyer who meets the moderate income guidelines, but the land will be retained by the CLT. The arrangement reduces the mortgage cost, making home ownership more affordable, Welnel said.

When a house on a CLT property is resold, the CLT gains a certain percentage to use to ensure the property stays affordable for the next family.

The CLT collects a small fee, typically $25 to $32 a month, from the homeowner to provide ongoing workshop training to the homeowner. Homeowners are required to take a home ownership course before purchasing.

Families with incomes up to 80 percent of Ward County’s median income are eligible to apply. For a family of four, that eligibility level is about $51,000. The CLT will be giving preference to applicants who lost their homes in the flood.

Welnel said the CLT plans to provide information to local lending institutions to help prospective borrowers determine whether they might be eligible. Application information also is being prepared for people to obtain through the housing authority.

Welnel said the hope is to have the new home ready for move-in by late July or early August. The CLT board already is looking at lots for its next project.

“We are looking at a couple of lots in Eastwood Park and a couple of lots in Burlington,” Welnel said. “In our proposed budget, we are looking at doing 30 homes in three years.”

Homeowners who sell at a discount or donate post-flood properties to a nonprofit organization may be eligible to list it as a charitable contribution on an itemized income-tax return. Property owners who are interested should visit with the Internal Revenue Service or their tax accountants.

A second CLT, operated by the nonprofit Plum Valley Developers, has a list of properties that it is considering for its first project. Plum Valley Developers looks to lease land to a developer who would build small rental housing, such as a four- or six-plex, that would be made available at below-market, affordable rents to families who meet the moderate income guidelines. A couple of developers have shown interest in participating in the 99-year leases, said president Kari Conrad.

Conrad said the group is investigating the possibility of acquiring abandoned properties in the valley. Existing structures on those properties could be rehabilitated, if possible, or removed.

Conrad said the CLT is only interested in properties that already are zoned for multi-family. The properties also must be in a post-flood neighborhood.

“That’s our focus,” she said. “Most of us that are involved, we were flooded ourselves, and we want to see it just brought back to the neighborhood that was here before.”

Plum Valley Developers has an interest in working with the National Community Stabilization Trust, a national nonprofit organization that aids local housing providers in acquiring foreclosed and abandoned properties from financial institutions and provides flexible financing to support local programs.

Conrad said the CLT has identified sources of potential funding, and she is optimistic that funding will be secured to start a project this summer.