Defining affordable housing in Raleigh - 2021-08-26T212257.930

Rendering for the $1 land deal, the Cottages of Idlewild | Image via Raleigh Area Land Trust

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As Raleigh continues to grow, the conversation surrounding affordable housing does too — but what does “affordable housing” really mean? We sat down with the interim director of the Raleigh Area Land Trust, Rhett Fussell, to get some answers.

What is RALT?

The Raleigh Area Land Trust (aka: RALT) is the first community land trust in Wake County, with the goal of preserving housing affordability for low to moderate income families long term.

You might have heard RALT’s name in the news recently — the nonprofit won the city’s $1 land deal that will now be developed into affordable housing, with the help of NC Central’s basketball coach LeVelle Moton.

How does a community land trust work?

RALT owns the land that the homes sit on, but sells the homes or units to buyers. The homeowners then lease the land for a minimal fee.

If the homeowner wants to sell the home at a later date, they sell it back to RALT + get back all of the principal payments they’ve made — like a normal mortgage, except equity is shared with RALT. Homeowners are guaranteed a fixed 1.5% for each year they live in the home, based on the initial sales price.

What qualifies as affordable housing?

The US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development determines an area median income for regions across the country + a household is considered low-income if it makes 80% or less than the area’s median number.

For instance, for a household of 4 currently in Raleigh, making 80% of the area’s median income would equate to ~$76,550.

Any housing that is for people in the 80% and below low-income category can be considered affordable housing.

RALT’s plans

The trust is hoping to provide homes in the $150,000-$190,000 range, or lower, for those in the ~50-80% income subset. Beginning in October, individuals will be able to submit an application on RALT’s website if they’re interested in the home owning process.

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