City of Lakes Community Land Trust creates affordable housing opportunities by acquiring land and removing it from the speculative, for-profit real estate market. Income-qualified buyers can then purchase a home on the land, leasing the land through a 99-year renewable ground lease. This ensures that if and when the homeowner decides to sell, the Land Trust can keep the home affordable for other income-qualified households, creating perpetually affordable housing.
Mamo Jale and Safiya Sani fled Ethiopia as political refugees, originally settling in Kenya. During their five-year stay in Kenya they dreamed of moving to the United States, and eventually resettled in Minneapolis in part due to the large Oromo population already in residence.
Through a sponsorship by the International Institute of Minnesota, Mamo and Safiya learned English, received job skills training, and found employment. Homeownership, however, eluded them for six years. Having come from a country where they owned a home as well as a small business, Mamo and Safiya were disappointed with the idea of renting an apartment long-term. But they were hesitant to pursue homeownership due to their unfamiliarity with the building codes in the United States. It was at this time Mamo and Safiya learned of the City of Lakes Community Land Trust from a friend in the Oromo community, who had previously been a homeowner through the organization.
Safiya says the assistance from the City of Lakes Community Land Trust in navigating the homebuying process was invaluable. “In Ethiopia all buildings are made of concrete. They last for a long, long time. We didn’t know about water damage or structure problems. There is a lot to know.”
Safiya says the assistance from the City of Lakes Community Land Trust in navigating the homebuying process was invaluable. “In Ethiopia, all buildings are made of concrete. They last for a long, long time. We didn’t know about water damage or structure problems. There is a lot to know.”
After an exhaustive search of almost 30 homes, Mamo and Safiya were able to purchase a like-new, foreclosed home in the Heritage Park neighborhood in North Minneapolis. Safiya looks back fondly at the assistance she received from the Land Trust saying the organization advised them on their home purchase decision as well as what to do if something happened to the house that they would not be able to manage on their own.