Late Winter Newsletter
“The great cause of inequality in the distribution of wealth is inequality in the ownership of land. The ownership of land is the great fundamental fact which ultimately determines the social, the political, and consequently the intellectual and moral condition of a people.”
― Henry George, Progress and Poverty
Newtown CDC and AZCLT:
Working for Joint Sustainability & Equity in The Valley
Anyone familiar with the work of Newtown Community Development Corporation is well aware of their success at making affordable housing possible to scores of Valley residents. Now with 141 properties throughout the greater Phoenix region, Newtown CDC has in a short span of time developed the amazing capability to leverage essential resources for the benefit of lower income residents who are now able to acquire a comfortable and affordable home. Established in 2001 and now led by Executive Director Stephanie Brewer, the organization is adding more properties to their portfolio every year. As example, they hope to, by late summer 2021, bring the very special Tempe Micro Estates project online. This project would make available for purchase thirteen modern and efficient one-bedroom homes, each approximately 600 square feet in size, on community-owned land with a shared community room and community garden. Qualified lower income buyers in this community will have much to enjoy in the heart of Tempe – and at a considerable savings.
Tempe Micro Estates
In the past several weeks, AZCLT’s Richard Starling (later joined by board member David Hill) has had several important discussions with Newtown’s Stephanie Brewer as well as more recently with Project Manager David Crummey. The purpose of conversations has been to begin to explore a possible joint partnership or other working model between our two organizations. If you think about it, working in collaboration with Newtown seems like a natural fit for AZCLT. After all, making affordable housing available and safeguarding affordable land for food production are two of the greatest challenges for those who reside and eat food in Maricopa County – especially considering the anticipated major development over the coming decades and the ensuing financial pressures that creates for maintaining a modicum of productive agriculture/green space as well as affordable housing for all income groups.
In our discussions, Stephanie Brewer explained to Richard and me some major challenges for Newtown. The last recession put a virtual halt to construction of new dwellings in The Valley. “We’re really behind,” she said. Now everyone in the housing sector is playing catch up at the same time when a massive influx of new residents is under way. The result? A spike in real estate values and home sales/rental costs. Fewer and fewer homes are on currently the sales market for less than $300K, even in modest neighborhoods, and HUD will not offer financing assistance for a dwelling appraised at more than $313K. This means that many lower income individuals and families are virtually locked out of the opportunity to own a home of their own.
Thank goodness for Newtown CDC! Their model is to purchase housing property at market value before fully rehabbing the dwelling – or building new housing, then make purchase of the dwelling itself available to qualified persons at prices well below market rates. The land on which the dwelling stands belongs not to the homeowner, but to the community land trust operated by Newtown. This land is then made available to the homeowner in a renewable 99-year lease agreement at a very affordable rate. An example of the savings for qualified homeowners is a small home in El Mirage, AZ that was recently on the market for $240K. Newtown was able to purchase and rehab the home then sell it to a single mother for $190K – a considerable savings indeed.
We recognize that the community land trust model fulfills a vital role both for those many residents in need of affordable housing and for those essential food growers in The Valley who are in need of affordable land on which to grow the food that feeds all of us here. Thriving community land trusts in both sectors are essential for a sustainable future in Maricopa County, Richard Starling and I look forward to continued conversations in the weeks ahead with Stephanie Brewer and David Crummy of Newtown CDC as we explore the possibility of pooling our efforts and working more closely together. The possibilities for AZCLT and Newtown CDC working in partnership are exciting to imagine and certainly worth studying together.
AZCLT board member
Learn about the Community Land Trust Model
I encourage you to reread the quote at the beginning of this newsletter. The community land trust model focuses on equality and equity in land tenure – how we, humanity, can occupy our space on the planet with respect and reverence for all who cohabitate with us!
You can learn more here:
https://centerforneweconomics.org/newsletters/changing-the-narrative-of-land-ownership/ and here:
Support the Arizona Community Land Trust
Your support is essential to our work of protecting and preserving land for agriculture. Become a member ($10); contributions above membership can be designated to support our Fund for Community Land; monthly contributions are also welcomed. It’s ease to give through our website: