Affordable Homeownership in Lawrence, Haverhill, and North Andover
Kane knows it is a dream of many families in the Merrimack Valley to own a home. There are so many hard-working people that work full time that are priced out of homeownership due to the astronomical price of real estate.
The Executive Director of Bread & Roses Housing INC, Annmary Connor, takes pride in her organization’s mission of bringing homeownership opportunities to the gainfully employed residents of her community. Annmary explained that some of her residents work in the local grocery stores, in retail, and healthcare such as Certified Nurses Assistants.
According to Annmary, Bread & Roses Housing currently has 49 built or rehabilitated homes in their inventory that are pridefully owned by 49 working families. Kane thought wow, that is quite an accomplishment.
Kane asked, “please spill the tea Annmary how? What is the secret?” Annmary said, “the secret is utilizing a Community Land Trust.”
Kane asked Annmary how does that work? Annmary explained to Kane that for the past 35 years Bread and Roses Housing has built or renovated existing homes where the organization retains ownership of the land, while the resident secures a mortgage for the home on the land owned by Bread & Roses Housing.
In fact, the contract reads the land is owned by Bread & Roses Housing for 99 years promoting generational wealth. Many participants of the program are first generation citizens, and the demographics represent the urban community.
According to Annmary participants are all families of at least three people. A family may consist of a single parent and two children or a multigenerational family consisting of a grandparent, parent, and child. The household average income is $60,000. Annmary informed Kane that Bread & Roses Housing was first developed in 1987 by women volunteering at a food pantry and recognized the need for housing within the working poor population.
Kane asked, “How are families selected?”
Annmary explained that families from the waiting list are required to be gainfully employed, have a positive credit score, and motivated to maintain their home and property. Resident owners are required to place a down payment on the home of 3%, a small portion of that can be gifted and the remaining 17% of the down payment can be from a second mortgage, awarded by Bread and Roses Housing. The remainder of the mortgage is secured from a local bank. Annmary explained to Kane if an owner would like to sell their home, Bread & Roses Housing has the first opportunity to buy the property so they may allow the next person on their waiting list to secure the opportunity of home ownership. Kane learned from Annmary that the current waiting list has 150 people waiting.
Kane was curious how the home ownership road to self- sufficiency was paid for in general. Annmary said the communities served by the program including local city halls have a vested interest in the program success. According to Annmary, the program is funded through on-going rigorous grant writing and community donations. Besides securing funding for parcels of land, the organization has operating costs associated with land ownership and employment. In fact, if you would like to donate to the program, please visit the website at www.brhousing.org.
Kane found Annmary’s enthusiasm and dedication to be contagious. As a once homeless dog, he knows how important shelter and a place to call your own is for your mental and physical health. He was curious about Annmary’s background and found that she recently completed her doctorate degree in social work at Simmons College.
No wonder her ideas and energy seemed so modern and intelligent. Kane believes that Annmary values lifelong learning. What better recipe for success than years of job experience paired with recent education. Thank you for all you do Annmary, the staff, and the Board of Directors at Bread & Roses Housing Inc, a local non- profit doing amazing work in our community.
Kane Peaslee, Woof
Valley Patriot Columnist ◊