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February 2011 - Shared Equity Homeownership and Asset Building

In the Toolbox

This issue of In Focus highlights new empirical data on the results of homeownership programs that seek to ensure long-term housing affordability while helping working families build assets. Sometimes known as shared equity homeownership, such programs bring homeownership within reach of low- or moderate-income families through subsidies that reduce the purchase costs. In return, participating homeowners agree to share the benefits of future home price appreciation in a way that helps preserve affordability for future buyers. These programs allow communities to use a single investment in affordability to provide affordable homeownership opportunities to one generation of homebuyers after another.

New data are now availability on how well shared equity homeownership programs achieve the goals of maintaining affordability and helping homebuyers to build assets. The research suggests that, when well executed, shared equity homeownership programs can successfully achieve both of these objectives.

Explore the Toolkit

"Out Loud" Podcast

This month's Out Loud podcast features an interview with Brett Theodos, research associate at The Urban Institute. Ryan Sherriff, research associate at the Center for Housing Policy, talks to Theodos about the report he co-authored that highlights seven shared equity homeownership programs across the country and how well they preserve affordability and provide asset-building opportunities.

Listen to the Podcast

Solutions in Action

Since 1992, the San Francisco Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program requires developers to sell 15 to 20 percent of the units in a project as “Below Market Rate” (BMR) units affordable to low- or moderate-income households.

The program places a resale restriction on each BMR home, keeping it affordable to future low- and moderate-income buyers. Currently, the resale restriction formula allows BMR home prices to change at the same rate as the area median income in the San Francisco metropolitan area, helping to keep housing costs in line with incomes. By using this formula, the program creates permanently affordable homes for working families in the Bay Area, one of the most expensive housing markets in the U.S.

Learn More about this Solution in Action

New Resources on Shared Equity Homeownership and Asset Building

Two new resources on shared equity homeownership and asset building are now available online.

Share Your Story

Shared equity homeownership is often used in high-cost communities where home prices are rising significantly faster than incomes. However, many communities with more modest home price increases use shared equity approaches effectively. Among other applications, communities can use shared equity programs to help stabilize and revitalize high-poverty neighborhoods, particularly those that have been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

How has your community used community land trusts (CLTs) and other shared equity homeownership programs in lower cost, blighted areas? What other considerations, benefits and challenges are involved in using CLTs and similar programs in this context?

Join our Shared Equity Homeownership discussion group on the Forum to respond to this question or add your own. Share your experiences with fellow housing practitioners across the country!

Visit the Forum to Share Your Story


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The first resource is a paper by the Center for Housing Policy and the Cornerstone Partnership, Balancing Asset Building Opportunities with the Ability to Preserve Affordability in a Homeownership Program. The paper serves as a primer for local governments and nonprofits establishing or looking to refine long-term affordable homeownership programs that effectively balance the preservation of affordability and individual asset-building opportunities. The report is the culmination of a working group led by the Center and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The second resource on this topic is a recording from a January 26, 2011 webinar, Balancing Affordability and Asset Building in Homeownership Programs. The webinar highlighted a recent report by The Urban Institute that describes seven shared equity homeownership programs that provide long-term affordable homeownership opportunities, while still offering their residents substantial asset building opportunities. The New America Foundation, the Cornerstone Partnership, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation co-sponsored this webinar.

Click here to access these resources

Featured Gallery Entry:

The Cannery, Longmont, CO

Photo Credit Thistle Communities


November 2010:
Employer-Assisted Housing
September 2010:
Rental Housing Preservation
July 2010:
Improve Residential Energy Efficiency
May 2010 -
Disaster Resistant Housing
April 2010 -
In Focus: Housing Solutions Week Recap
December 2009 - In Focus: Coordinated Housing and Transportation Policies
September 2009 -
In Focus: Shared Equity Homeownership and Asset Building
July 2009 -
In Focus: Post-Conference Edition
April 2009 - In Focus: Learning Conference
March 2009- In Focus: Neighborhood Stabilization
December 2008- In Focus: Neighborhood Stabilization
November 2008-- In Focus: Neighborhood Stabilization
October 2008-- In Focus: Transit-Oriented Development
September 2008-- In Focus: Inclusionary Zoning
August 2008 -- In Focus: Rental Housing Preservation
July 2008-- In Focus: Shared Equity Homeownership
June 2008 -- In Focus: Green Affordable Housing -- This issue of In Focus kicked off a series of Six Housing Policies for a World of High Energy Costs
May 2008 -- In Focus: Foreclosure Prevention
April 2008 -- In Focus: Employer-Assisted Housing
February 2008
-- was launched in January 2008 as part of Housing Solutions Week. Click here to view materials from the week.