The Newport City Council hit what might be described as a hiccup in turning over the reigns of the Lincoln County Land Trust to a similar organization out of Portland. The group, which likewise seeks to place home ownership within reach of lower to lower-middle income families, is called Proud Ground based in Portland.
Lincoln County Land Trust board members Bill Hall and Derrick Tokos said the hand-off to Proud Ground would jump-start Lincoln County’s own efforts to shepherd more Lincoln County families into a home of their own. Surplus or tax foreclosed land in the county could be deeded to the land trust, and any home built on it would cost just the price of the home, not the land. The homeowner pays a mortgage but only a lease payment to the trust for the land. Then when that family is ready to move into a better home, the starter home can go to another lower income family to start the process of upward housing mobility all over again. Proud Grounds has hundreds of them in the Portland metropolitan area.
But the hiccup was prompted by an observation by city councilor David Allen that the contract with Proud Ground would not use up the full amount that is being donated annually to the Lincoln County Land Trust – $50,000 rather than $90,000. Allen said it suggests that the donor entities – Lincoln City, Newport and the county – might be justified in getting a rebate on their donations.
It seemed to catch Hall, Tokos and the council momentarily flat-footed. But then Tokos brought up a strategic element that Allen had overlooked – that land trusts routinely tap federal Community Development Block Grant funds that often require local match money to help finance the housing creation process. The council decided to continue exploring the Proud Ground option but also asked Hall and Tokos to bring back more information on funding details to the next council meeting.