Saying Fauquier County has a housing affordability crisis isn’t controversial.
A review of the most recent sales data from Realtor.com highlights the affordability challenge, with the median sales price for a home in Fauquier County remaining above $500,000 as of August 2022. A search of current inventory (as of September 19, 2022) finds only 16 properties available for purchase at a price point below $350,000, 9 of which are single-family homes (with 3 in need of significant renovation). With most new developments in the surrounding area “starting in the low $500,000s”, there is no indication these price pressures will improve any time soon.
Rental options are equally as challenging. If you want to live within 20-miles of Warrenton, you can find 33 rentals below $1600 per month on Craigslist – with only 4 units offering more than 1 bedroom. And even if you find a rental available, you will likely find yourself among a pool of applicants desperately trying to secure housing.
With limited affordable housing inventory available, individuals and families are left with few options. Do you move your family farther away? Do you move into a smaller space than you need? Or do you pay more – like 33% of all Virginians paying more than 30% of their income to housing costs, or 7% paying more than 50%?
There are no quick fixes or easy solutions for addressing the issue of housing affordability – but breaking away from using the same strategies that put us in our current situation is an important first step.
In early September, Fauquier Habitat for Humanity “broke out” of its traditional model of homeownership when it placed its first home with The Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust (VSCLT). In doing so, Fauquier Habitat guaranteed that every home it builds will be permanently affordable for the lifetime of the home.
As a founding member of the Virginia Statewide Community Land Trust, Fauquier Habitat for Humanity has long envisioned a future where we could expand the amazing work we do to provide deeply affordable homeownership to families in need. VSCLT’s partnership allows us to do just that. Now this home will serve not only this first family, but each subsequent family to purchase it will receive an affordable price. That is the power of CLTs.
VSCLT is an innovative model and the only Statewide Community Land Trust (CLT) in the United States that works primarily with Habitat for Humanity affiliates to create permanently affordable homeownership. In this instance, FHFH built an affordable home in the town of Remington and sold it to an income-qualified Habitat Partner Family. VSCLT, a Statewide non-profit organization, supports FHFH to use the CLT legal structure to make the home permanently affordable. The end result is a home that will be sold at an affordable price to an individual or family earning 30% to 60% of area median income.
Amelie Rives, VSCLT’s Executive Director, highlighted the critical role of the land trust in high-cost communities. “Homeownership is the American Dream and for too many of our community members this dream cannot be reality. Inflation, rising interest rates, and limited housing stock has made housing extremely unaffordable. This VSCLT home is an innovative approach to creating and retaining affordable homeownership in even our most expensive communities.”
The partnership between Fauquier Habitat and VSCLT enhances the work Habitat already does to connect families to wealth building opportunities through homeownership by amplifying this impact for families through permanent affordability of the home for current and future generations to come.