Fort Worth, Texas – In a maneuver within the annals of Fort Worth municipal governance, city officials are on the cusp of pioneering a novel stratagem aimed at buttressing affordable homeownership. The proposed plan revolves around an alliance with a community land trust, a move that underscores a broader commitment to equitable housing solutions and offers a concrete path for middle- and low-income families to secure permanent residences.
Fort Worth City Council decided to extend a loan to the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation
In a session convened on Tuesday, the Fort Worth City Council reached a unanimous decision to extend a loan to the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation. This financial backing is earmarked for the $11 million acquisition of a 15-acre tract of land, currently owned by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The overarching vision for this parcel is its eventual ownership and administration by a community land trust, which will be tasked with cultivating an enclave of perpetually affordable housing aimed at fortifying the economic stability of working families—a key tenet of both the mayoral and City Council agendas.
“To be a thriving city, we must create paths to affordable homeownership that will help us maintain the skilled workforce Fort Worth needs,” said Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker. “Smart housing strategies leverage opportunities when they come, work with the community to meet their needs, and provide holistic, long-term solutions that will benefit the city far into the future. I am proud that we are pursuing an innovative approach for doing just that.”
“As the fastest-growing large city in the country, we must ensure we address the housing needs of our community. This effort will have a significant, lasting impact on the lives of the families by providing an affordable path to homeownership.” said District 9 Fort Worth City Councilmember Elizabeth Beck. “I am proud that our first community land trust partnership will be located in the heart of District 9, and I look forward to working with the community and our City Council to continue to implement strategies across our city to bolster affordable housing opportunities.”
This model will help low-income families to buy their own home in Fort Worth
In an astute gambit to circumvent the escalating inaccessibility of homeownership for lower-income families, community land trusts (CLTs) offer a unique mechanism that disaggregates the cost of residential structures from the underlying land. This model ensures enduring affordability by allowing households to purchase homes at a lower price point, while the land itself remains under the stewardship of a nonprofit entity. In alignment with this paradigm, the City of Fort Worth is on the precipice of consummating a property acquisition, post-completion of which, the asset is slated to be transferred to a yet-to-be-identified local nonprofit. The selected organization must express an unequivocal commitment to instituting a community land trust tailored to the property in question.
Amid this strategic backdrop, the Fort Worth City Council is poised to cast ballots in the imminent weeks on the adoption of a comprehensive blueprint, officially termed the “Neighborhood Conservation Plan & Housing Affordability Strategy.” Conceived as a multi-dimensional framework, this document will guide the city’s fiscal investments in community enhancement and residential stability. Worthy of special note is the elevation of the community land trust model to a high-priority stratagem within this overarching agenda. This is particularly pertinent, given the sobering statistic that 80% of residential properties in Fort Worth have eclipsed the financial reach of a household with median income.
“The creation of a community land trust is one of the major recommendations from our Neighborhood Conservation Plan & Housing Affordability Strategy, and it will allow the city and a partner to provide long-term affordability for working class families,” said Neighborhood Services Department Director Victor Turner.
As the city navigates the intricate pathways toward cementing a partnership with a community land trust, civic engagement will serve as a foundational pillar. This ethos ensures that as the city transitions toward the operational phase of this initiative, robust dialogue will transpire with inhabitants of the adjacent neighborhoods. This community-centered discourse aims to facilitate a seamless integration of the forthcoming development, ascertaining that it harmoniously coexists with the pre-existing residential landscape.
Earlier in the year, the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation had tendered a nonbinding offer for the acquisition of the identical tract of land that now stands at the focal point of the city’s transformative housing strategy. Initially, the corporation sought to collaborate with a consortium of nonprofit organizations to procure the property, intending to erect housing facilities aimed at serving some of the city’s most vulnerable populations, notably homeless families. However, when financial backing for this nascent multi-entity alliance foundered, Mayor Mattie Parker marshaled the collective acumen of the City leadership to not merely salvage the initiative but also recalibrate it. The revised schema evolved into an avant-garde venture aligned with the City’s objectives to enhance the accessibility of affordable housing.
Notwithstanding the pursuit of an innovative community land trust partnership, the pressing exigency for housing solutions tailored to families transitioning out of homelessness continues to loom large on the city’s socio-economic landscape. Consequently, the City remains unwavering in its commitment to continually funnel investments into a spectrum of affordable housing projects to ameliorate the living conditions of these particularly vulnerable families.
In the pipeline are two forthcoming developments emblematic of this targeted approach. The first, dubbed Tobias Place, is a groundbreaking project orchestrated by Ojala Holdings, envisaged to feature 53 residential units specifically earmarked for families on the cusp of exiting homelessness. The second initiative, Casa de los Suenos, embodies a more unconventional tactic. Spearheaded by Fort Worth Housing Solutions, this project entails the conversion of an existing motel into a housing complex, comprising 55 units that will be exclusively reserved for families making the tenuous transition away from homelessness. Both ventures underscore the city’s multidimensional and agile approach to tackling the complex, and increasingly urgent, issue of housing affordability.
Fort Worth’s decision comes shortly after Fort Worth’s Neighborhood Services department, led by Director Victor Turner, unveiled city’s latest move in battling the affordable housing problem.