No place like home
Hannibal Square Community Land Trust puts a new twist on homeownership
Published: April 21, 2011
When Mary Daniels was a teenager, her Hungerford High School social studies teacher sent her on a mission: She was dispatched to the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce to look for a copy of something called the "10- to 20-year plan," a meticulously detailed master plan that laid out a strategy for development in the city.
In it, Daniels learned, the city – which has long been home to an established African-American community in the Hannibal Square area just west of downtown – proposed encouraging black residents to move away from Winter Park’s center and closer to Maitland.
At the time, Daniels didn’t find the revelation all that shocking or appalling – it was 1962, she was just a teenager and 20 years seemed like a long time away. Even if the 10- to 20-year plan did cause black families to relocate, she figured, she probably wouldn’t be around to see how it affected the community.
More than 40 years later, though, Daniels is still here. She now not only lives in Winter Park, she’s also deeply vested in what happens to it – and to what’s left of the African-American community that remains in Hannibal Square.
Daniels is the president of the board of the Hannibal Square Community Land Trust, a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to preserve affordable housing – and the legacy of the African-American families who first settled in Hannibal Square in the 1880s – in the Winter Park Community Redevelopment Area.
The CRA, as it’s more commonly known, was adopted by Winter Park in 1991 and spurred a flurry of growth that drove housing prices beyond the means of many of the black families who were living there.
The Hannibal Square Land Trust, the first of its kind in Central Florida, tries to combat the displacement of low- and middle-income families from Hannibal Square by taking a new approach to homeownership. The organization builds affordable, attractive new houses on plots of land donated to it by the city. It sells the homes to qualified low- and middle-income buyers who meet certain criteria: they must be first-time homebuyers who are residents or former residents of Winter Park, they must live in the home as their primary residence and they must qualify for the home based on income and family size. If they’re approved for a mortgage, they get to purchase a brand-new home in downtown Winter Park for less than what it would be worth if sold on the open market.
There’s just one catch: The homebuyers own the home, but not the land the house sits on, which belongs to the nonprofit land trust. Residents have a 99-year renewable lease on the land, which they can pass down to their children. They can also sell the homes after a certain number of years (to prevent property flipping, buyers must live in the homes for a period before selling), but they only keep 25 percent of the equity in the house. After a house is sold, the other 75 percent goes back to the land trust to help it fulfill its mission of providing affordable housing in Hannibal Square. The land-trust model is praised by supporters for helping maintain affordable housing options in areas where real estate values have skyrocketed beyond the reach of the average homebuyer.
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