Finding home sweet home isn’t always easy for low-income families, including those who live in North Dakota and Minnesota. That’s why Gate City Bank has partnered up with the Cass Clay Community Land Trust to establish more affordable housing in Fargo-Moorhead and the surrounding area.
“Everyone deserves a place to call home,” says Kevin Hanson, Gate City Bank President & CEO. “This nonprofit partnership has been truly amazing, opening the door to long-term affordable housing solutions for families who need them most, all while creating a better way of life in our communities.”
The Fargo-Moorhead area has experienced rapid population growth in recent years, which has led to increased housing demand and an affordable housing shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in community leaders recognizing a need for the Cass Clay Community Land Trust.
Launched by the FM Area Foundation in 2020, the trust leverages public and private funds through strategic community partnerships that help convert renters to owners by ultimately providing sustainable and affordable housing.
How it works: The trust permanently owns the land, some of which was donated by the City of Fargo, for an average cost of $50,000. The land is leased to the buyers, who are then able to purchase the home at a below-market cost, lowering monthly payments.
Knowing many hardworking people aren’t making enough money to qualify for purchasing a median-priced home, Gate City Bank gladly became a partner in the initiative, pledging a total of $50,000 over five years. The Bank sees this as an opportunity to create a better way of life by providing a viable, sustainable and long-term housing solution.
“Gate City Bank has been so wonderful to work with,” says Trenton Gerads, Executive Director of the Cass Clay Community Land Trust. “Words can’t express how thankful we are for the expertise and support they’ve provided, which have been crucial to bringing this initiative to life.”
Gate City Bank is no stranger to tackling housing challenges head on. In 2017, the Bank pledged $1.5 million toward YWCA Cass Clay’s Grace Garden expansion, a 30-unit women’s supportive housing project that opened in 2019, establishing an environment of safety, stability and community for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse and poverty situations.
Gate City Bank also helped the nonprofit build an economic enrichment wing in 2015 and transitional housing in 2010. The Bank’s latest donation of $1.5 million was the largest in YWCA’s history.
Additionally, Gate City Bank has contributed millions of dollars to promote home improvement programs across North Dakota and central Minnesota. The Bank has partnered with various cities in an effort to revitalize mature neighborhoods, helping local homeowners make repairs and improvements with a low interest rate.
A total of $12 million was allocated in 2021 to programs in the following cities:
Organizers behind the Cass Clay Community Land Trust have arranged for 10 twin homes to be ready in 2021, with the goal of having 105 permanently affordable homes available by 2024. Each twin home features three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms and a slab-on-grade. To qualify, eligible homeowners must be at least 18 years old, U.S. citizens and be at or below the 80% area median income (AMI) for their household. They can start by filling out this Cass Clay Community Land Trust application.
Jalyssa Sorenson, Gate City Bank Vice President of Mortgage Operations, serves on the trust’s board of directors. She’s beyond excited to help program participants achieve the homeownership they’ve worked so hard for.
“I have seen so many people struggle to navigate the complexities of achieving homeownership in today’s housing market,” Sorenson says. “This is such a neat way to help keep homes affordable.”
To learn more about the Cass Clay Community Land Trust, visit AreaFoundation.org/Initiatives/CCCLT.