November 9, 2015 [Jeff Piorkowski, special to cleveland.com]
SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — The Rev. Calvin Allen and his wife of nearly 40 years, Darlene, had been living the past few years in his late mother’s home in Cleveland.
When it was time to move, they looked in South Euclid, where Calvin’s sister lives. Searching for that new home, the couple came across the Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland‘s Land Trust Program. The program, which will eventually include the rehabilitation and resale of four homes in South Euclid, represents an opportunity for moderate-income families to purchase a home at a price they can afford.
The program’s help doesn’t stop at the time of purchase, however, as it also provides instruction to new homeowners about issues concerning future financial matters and home maintenance.
“I would highly recommend this program to anyone,” Calvin Allen said. “It’s a very good program. It’s a blessing.”
The Allens recently moved into their new place of residence on Norma Drive. Like all Land Trust Program homes, it had been fully renovated and equipped with energy efficient windows, furnace, refrigerator, dishwasher, disposal and insulation.
“The house is energy efficient and something we can afford,” said Allen, pastor at Root of David Christian Ministry.
The program is eligible to those who meet income guidelines. They range from an income of $37,050 for one person, to $52,900 for a four-person family, to $69,850 for a family of eight.
The homes, once-foreclosed upon and subsequently listed on the roster of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, are subsequently renovated by the non-profit NHS using funds from a few sources.
“The four homes in South Euclid will get a combined $530,000 put into them,” said NHS Executive Director Lou Tisler. “That money comes from the Ohio Housing Financial Agency, the Cuyahoga County Department of Development, and the home owner, who pays about $72,000 for the house.”
When completed, the homes, Tisler said, are worth about $105,000. They are generally sold for about $85,000, but with the program’s assistance, the actual cost to the buyer is about $72,000.
When purchasers buy a Land Trust Program home, they get a 99-year lease on the property upon which the home is situated, but buy the home. NHS retains ownership of the land, but the property can be used as any homeowner would his or her property.
The homeowner gets a mortgage to the home.
The home can be passed down to children. If the home is resold, it must be sold to an owner-occupant, and the resale price must be affordable, as stated in the lease agreement.
“We always like to give back,” Calvin Allen said. “If we sold our house, which we probably never will, we like that we would sell it at an affordable price and give someone else a chance to own a home.”
Tisler said that there is one Land Trust home in Cleveland Heights, one in Shaker Heights and a total of 13 single-family homes in the county. There are also 13 rental homes in the county.
In South Euclid, the four homes are single-family dwellings. Next up for sale is a home, built in 1951 and foreclosed upon in 2011, at 1236 Avondale Road.
Also to be sold are homes at 3826 Wallingford Road, and 4114 Wilmington Road.
The Avondale Road home, a bungalow that measures 1,251 square feet, has been renovated to include a bedroom, bathroom and closets on its second floor, formerly an attic storage space. It’s basement has been cleaned and new I-beams added.
The two-car garage has been totally upgraded, and new vinyl siding added to the home and garage. The back door features newly built steps, and the front door, new handrails and door overhang.
Tisler said the home’s energy efficiency has been increased by 50 percent from its former state.
“It’s a safer, more secure way of home ownership,” South Euclid Housing Manager Sally Martin said of the program. “(NHS) prepares you for the challenges of home ownership and for maintenance, because there are things when you first buy a home that you need to know that no one teaches you.”
Martin said the fix-up of the Land Trust Program homes can also uplift neighborhoods.
“It can give neighbors confidence that they can spend money on their properties because they see this happening next door,” she said.
Martin added that, while on the Land Bank list, the Avondale Road home could possibly have been demolished, as opposed to becoming a solid part of the city’s housing stock.
For more information on the South Euclid Land Trust Program homes or the program, call 216-458-4663, ext. 2334, or visit [email protected].