Why Are You Doing This?
A number of factors have combined to make the average price of a home in our town relatively high, even in this difficult economy. The lack of housing in a price range that is affordable for critical community resources including workers, current residents, and volunteers is an issue that impacts the community. Whether it is attracting and keeping workers that our community depends on, or ensuring that the children of long-time Goshen residents don’t need to leave town to own a home, or helping those long-time residents to stay in Goshen as they move into retirement … the limited availability of housing options below a certain price level for these important community members is an important issue to address. The mission of the Goshen Housing Trust, Inc. is to make home ownership possible for these workers, residents, and volunteers who may not otherwise be able to afford a home in our community.
What Types of Homes do you Plan?
The Goshen Housing Trust plans to provide clustered, freestanding single-family homes that are affordable by individuals or families. For our first project, we anticipate building new 1-2 bedroom single-family homes. We would like to include units that target both affordable workforce housing and "senior suitable" units. Their exterior design will be in keeping with the Town’s rural New England character but will be designed to be energy efficient and “green”. A key concern of the Trust is to ensure that the homes we create are considered by all to be a positive asset to the community.
Why Not Build Rental Units?
We feel that home ownership brings with it many of the characteristics in the owners that are important to our community. This includes a motivation to maintain the home and share in its appreciation, and a greater connection to the community. The Trust might consider rental units or other types of housing for special purposes in the future, but our current focus is on home ownership as a key element of our program.
Why Don't You Renovate Existing Homes?
We have pursued this as one element of our plans. It is important that the homes we create are affordable by our target owners in terms of both purchase price and operational costs over the years. While we would love to undertake renovation of older existing homes, renovation projects are complex, can be more costly than new construction, and even with significant investment can end up being less energy efficient. At this time, we feel the mission of the Trust is best served by focusing on new construction, but we plan to continue to explore renovating existing homes, as well.
What does “Affordable” mean?
The Trust will create homes that are affordable by individuals and families whose gross income at or below eighty percent of the area median income level adjusted for family size. Qualified candidates for our homes will also need to be qualified to receive financing on the home from a bank. To give you as sense of what this means, the HUD agency indicates the Median Income in Goshen in 2011 was $88,700 per year; to qualify the candidate’s gross family income, based on family size, must be at or below the following:
Family Size Family Income 2 $51,400 4 $64,200 5 $69,350
How do you make the housing affordable?
The Goshen Housing Trust will retain ownership of the land upon which the housing is constructed and lease it to the homeowners at a very low cost. This means that the homeowner need only be able to pay for the value of the building on the land and this helps to make the housing affordable. We will also subsidize the cost of construction as needed to achieve the affordability goal. Grants from Federal and State agencies as well as donations to the Trust will be utilized to accomplish this.
What Do You Mean By “Permanent Affordability”?
Our homeowners agree as a condition of their lease on the land to a limitation on the eventual resale price of their home. This limit is based on a formula that uses the same HUD Median Income data in the year the home is sold and, therefore, will ensure that it will remain affordable for our target income range.
What Incentive Does the Homeowner Have to Do This?
Just as with any home ownership situation, there is a likelihood that the home will appreciate in value over the years. In addition to the intrinsic benefits of owning their own home in the Town of Goshen, our homeowners are entitled to share in any appreciation of the home at the time of sale.
Who Maintains the Home?
The homeowner agrees via the terms of the land lease to maintain the home. They must also keep the exterior of the home and the surrounding property well maintained and orderly.
How Will the Trust Ensure These Homes are Maintained?
The Trust retains the right, through the terms of its lease of the land to the homeowner, to inspect the home periodically to ensure that this maintenance is being done; if it is not, the Trust has several avenues that would allow it to correct the situation.
What About Major Repairs and Improvements?
If major repairs or improvements are needed, the homeowner requires approval in advance from the Trust to make these repairs. No changes to the interior or exterior of the home can be made without our approval.
Who Will Qualify for One of These Homes?
For affordable units, the Trust will only consider candidates that meet financial requirements (Income Test and Credit Worthiness). Qualified individuals or families must meet a maximum Gross Income limitation requirement, must not otherwise have the assets required to purchase the home, and must be able to qualify for a mortgage. When considering equally qualified candidates, we will take into account their connections to our community as well.
What Do You Mean By “Connected to the Community”?
We believe that these affordable homes will attract those who will work in the Town of Goshen (including for Regional School District #6) and/or who are likely to provide volunteer services to organizations that benefit the community – most notably, Fire and EMS services, and services for our seniors.
Do the Homeowners Pay Town Taxes?
Yes. Taxes will be assessed on the home based on the Fair Market Value of the home taking the restrictions of the land lease into account.
Will Building Affordable Housing in Goshen Lower the Value of Existing Homes?
This is often a concern for affordable housing projects, so it s a question studied at many levels. The general result of nearly all studies is that well manged, well designed, high quality affordable housing created and maintained by community-based private organization, such as the Goshen Housing Trust, Inc., versus government agencies has a very good track record of either having no impact on local home values or, in many cases, having a net positive impact. We are a group of community members who care very much about the long-term strength of our Town and we plan to build quality-designed homes that fit well into the existing community. Our land-lease model gives us the ability to oversee the properties over the years. The goal of the Goshen Housing Trust is to produce homes that become positive, contributing assets to the community.
Will the Addition of Lower Priced GHT Homes to the Market Pull Down Home Prices?
Our homes will only be available to a very specific set of qualified purchasers. In general, these qualified purchasers will be outside of the market for existing homes and therefore there should be no impact. Our homes will not compete for purchasers with the sale/resale of more expensive homes in Goshen. In addition, we will use marketing for our homes that is targeted to our specific market segment and do not plan to use the traditional MLS/Realtor system to sell our homes. As such, our homes should not influence any metric based on MLS or other traditional area home listings.
Who is the Goshen Housing Trust?
In early 2010, several meetings of the Town’s people were held to discuss the need for workforce housing in the Town. The Goshen Housing Trust, Inc. is a non-profit corporation that was subsequently founded by a volunteer group of these people to follow through on a solution. It is run by a Board of Directors whose current members are listed on our web site (www.goshenhousingtrust.org). All of the Directors volunteer their time to further the goals of the Trust. We welcome those would like to join or help us.
Are You An Agency of the Town or State Government?
No. The Goshen Housing Trust, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit corporation formed to serve a public purpose. We have no shareholders. The corporation is run by our Directors. (see goshenhousingtrust.org for more information). We are not dependent on taxpayer funds.
Will the Directors of the Trust Benefit from Their Projects?
No. The Certificate of Incorporation and the Bylaws of the Trust specifically state that no Director may be compensated for their work for the Trust and, further, that no benefit shall inure to a Director. Each Director has executed an acknowledgement that they will that they will adhere to the Trust's Conflict of Interest policy, the terms of which follow Internal Revenue Service guidelines, and they must reaffirm this in writing each year. The Directors of the Trust are volunteering their time and talents because we feel it is important for our community.
So How Will You Pay for All of This?
We formed Goshen Housing Trust as a non-profit corporation under the IRS code so that we could take advantage of many sources of Federal, State, Corporate, and Private Foundation funding specifically established for such projects. It will also allow us to accept private donations on a tax-deductible basis. In general, the cost of construction of the homes will be covered with a combination of grants obtained from these sources and traditional construction loans from local banks. The land for these homes will be acquired by the Trust utilizing a combination of donations, as well as grants. We hope that some land owners will consider bequests to the Trust to help meet the Town's needs.
Did You Guys Make All this Stuff Up?
No. The Goshen Housing Trust, Inc. is following a model for providing workforce and affordable housing that is tried and true. Many of the communities around us have a housing organization that follows a very similar model; these include Kent and Litchfield. The Litchfield Housing Trust, for example, has been doing this for over 25 years (see www.litchfieldhousingtrust.org for more information). In that time, they have created over 45 units in the Town. In most cases, you would never know that a home you are looking at is one of these affordable homes because they blend in with the community so well.
I Would Like to Be Considered For One of Your Homes ... How Do I Apply?
We are in the very earliest stages of our first project. It will be a year or more before we have homes available. A process will be defined and published for applicants as the project progresses. However, we are interested in anyone who thinks they might be qualified. Contact any Director or the Trust directly via the Contact Us webpage for more information.