A $739 mortgage payment in Winter Park? Here’s where we found affordable housing

Hannibal Square Land Trust provides affordable housing for working families

WINTER PARK, Fla. – As the affordable housing crisis is getting worse by the day with housing supply at an all-time low and rents reaching sky high, News 6 has found a solution for homeowners through the Hannibal Square Community Land Trust.

“Community land trusts work the best in areas that the house prices are skyrocketing,” Camille Reynolds Lewis, executive director of the Hannibal Square Community Land Trust said. “The land trust, which is a non-profit organization, acquires land whether by donation, surplus by local governments or purchase, we acquire land and then we build homes for low-to-moderate income families.”

The Hannibal Square Land Trust started back in 2004 when residents right outside of Winter Park noticed development and felt the threat of gentrification, coming together as a collective group working with the City of Winter Park who donated land to start the trust.

Couple who purchased home from Hannibal Square Community Land Trust (Hannibal Square Community Land Trust)

“What we do is take the cost of the land out of the equation, so that plus subsidies help to bring the price down,” Reynolds Lewis said. “So you are essentially purchasing the house and not the land.”

Grounded Solutions is a national organization that tracks community land trusts and said there are more than 275 community land trusts in the United States and growing as the affordable housing crisis grows across the nation.

They explain in this video how it works:

For Lynda Rambeau, a long-time resident of the neighborhood, purchased her 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in Hannibal Square in 2009 for a mortgage of $126,000.

When she bought the home she was working full-time as a hospital employee, meeting both the income and credit requirements to qualify for a mortgage and the program. With the subsidies and her escrow, her monthly mortgage payment was $739 a month, adding an additional $45 a month for the lease of the land still part of the community land trust. However, when News 6 visited her Thursday she had just refinanced, now with a mortgage of only $634 just blocks away from Winter Park’s Park Avenue.

“That’s a blessing from God, it’s a blessing from God,” Rambeau said.

Rambeau is retired currently on social security but also works part-time at a retail store.

“It needs to be put in place for more people absolutely love to see that happen,” she added.

There are currently 21 homes in the Hannibal Square Land Trust, but Renyolds Lewis said they are in process of building 24 additional units in Apopka and another 30 homes in Orlando. She adds there are currently more than 100 families on a waiting list hoping to get into one of the affordable homes.

Home purchased from Hannibal Square Community Land Trust (Hannibal Square Community Land Trust)

You can learn more about community land trusts in Florida, including information on how to create one, here.