By Rosalind Scutt
Imagine a nation of people for whom the dream of home ownership is slowly slipping from the realm of possibility. Imagine a recession, rising interest rates, inflation and massive population expansion and what that might further do to extinguish that dream.
Now, imagine a solution that seems so economically viable and socially responsible that it leaves you wondering if you’re naive to dream it could ever be possible.
That’s how I felt when I read about the newly established Bondi-based, Waratah Community Land Trust Association (WCLTA).
A community land trust is a not-for-profit entity that holds title to land in perpetuity, for the purposes of creating affordable housing and community benefit. In the case of the WCLTA, their aim is to provide affordable housing by retaining ownership of the actual land but allowing householders to own or rent their house or apartment.
Householders do not own the land — instead they have a ground lease which grants them full rights of land usage. In effect that means householders pay for the house only — drastically reducing the cost.
WCLTA plans to acquire land by way of donations, bequests, and government and corporate donations. The land will remain the property of the trust but houses can be resold. Renters cannot sublease.
The group is made up of citizens and experts in such fields as finance and urban development and the idea is not new. Similar schemes have been running successfully in the US for decades. WCLTA is basing its model on these tried and tested schemes and if successful, could be a major step forward in addressing housing affordability for Australians.
According to WCLTA, in the US the sector has grown to more than 200 community land trusts in four decades and low- to moderate-income homeowners in community land trust homes have withstood the mortgage meltdown, with a foreclosure rate one-eighth of the national average across all income levels.
Sounds ideal. An economically proven and socially responsible strategy for ensuring we can all achieve the dream of home ownership. Imagine.
You might say I’m a dreamer. Clearly though, I’m not the only one.