Partnered Local Community Investment
It could be thought of as an investment tithe.
There's no question that building housing that is truly affordable for average working families is a challenge, and nowhere more so than on the coast. Existing programs of government funds and private foundation funds (whether direct grants or program related investment) are available but shrinking, highly competitive, and often oriented to urban situations.
It seems to us that there is another approach that should be tried - one that could have huge benefits for creating sustainable community and would be helping us to be less dependent on outside resources.
What if locals grouped together to invest a percentage of their retirement funds in housing for those who live and work here?
It is a way to "think globally and act locally" both for those who live here year round and those who have second homes. All would be contributing towards the wellbeing of our beloved communities.
Our Reasoning - Is local investment any less secure than the world of the stock market?
Do you really know where your money is going in those supposedly progressive mutual funds? What could be better than seeing your money in a house and a happy family around the corner? Isn't there something fundamentally right about putting your money where your heart is?
The idea seems especially feasible when combined with the long term financing benefits of a community land trust where the land under the housing will truly belong to the community forever once our investment loans are paid off.
Eunice Massie, NeahCasa Board member and retired Director of the Nehalem Bay Health District, is helping to organize this effort. She said recently:
"As I see it, there are a number who are retired or near retirement who have money that they need to have invested because they actually need the income (like me). Many of them would be willing to take a smaller income on some of that money if they could have it invested in the community. It's like the old Savings and Loan in 'It's a Wonderful Life.' You put your money in and get an interest rate and the money gets loaned out in mortgages, either to specific borrowers or to NeahCasa to build properties. I want to know if other groups are doing it, how they make it work and what the legalities of it are."
Alder Creek Farm & the Lower Nehalem Community Trust - In 2002 five private individuals (three families) pooled retirement savings to purchase a 55 acre conservancy property between Manzanita and Nehalem for $200,000. They then held it for two years until LNCT could raise the money through grants and donations to purchase it from them. It was a truly inspiring endeavor, both for those who bravely put up their funds and for those who witnessed the process and the results.
Alder Creek Farm case, the investors chose not to receive interest on their funds. However, NeahCasa envisions creating arrangements where investors would make a reasonable return on their investments.
We also imagine:
- Redwing Blackbird LLC - 3 individuals invested money and sweat equity to create RedWing House, an innovative flexplex rental on 13th Street in Nehalem.
- Kingfisher Farms - A number of small investors loaned funds to Kingfisher Farms over several years to help with a greenhouse & then with flood recovery.
- A paid person to manage the properties for the trust so that investors are not responsible for those kinds of headaches.
- A large enough fund that liquidity is possible when an investor needs to bow out.
- A variety of ways and financial levels for participation.
The idea has been batted around quite a bit in the last couple of years with various groups of individuals making forays into privately investing in houses (and other projects) for friends and neighbors. And indeed, investing in houses is a common practice.
But what about the magic and synergy of doing it together - with houses that will continue to be affordable in perpetuity ...
SO! NeahCasa continues to look for individuals who are interested in helping the Trust purchase land in partnership with potential homeowners. Contact us if you are interest in going further with this discussion.