Claire volunteers at the Aug. 2 CPAH work day. Photo by Kelley Elwood

More than 40 volunteers brought shovels, sledgehammers, rakes and other tools to help clear out the once-abandoned property acquired by the nonprofit group Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH).

“I never thought this day would come,” said Jessica Deis, a neighbor near 1800 Greenleaf St., the site of the Aug. 2 work day of CPAH. “This will be an awesome thing for the neighborhood,” she said.

The house will be completely rehabbed and sold as affordable housing to a qualified buyer.

Community Land Trust Keeps Homes Affordable

CPAH is a non-profit organization that creates public-private partnerships to preserve, maintain and develop permanently affordable, owner-occupied and rental housing for low- and moderate-income households. CPAH helps, “bridge the gap between the high cost of housing and the incomes of some who want to live and work in the community,” according to one of its flyers.

Using the community land trust model and working with the City of Evanston, CPAH acquires and rehabs local properties. CPAH then sells the home but retains ownership of the land. Because only the house is sold, not the land, CPAH can set the purchase price at 20-65% below market value and ensure the property remains part of the local affordable housing inventory.

Applicants for the program must meet income qualifications. They must also obtain a mortgage, pay property taxes and pay to lease the land.

Open House on Darrow

On July 29, CPAH hosted an open house at their recently sold property at 1109 Darrow Ave.

“The homebuyers are a wonderful six-person Evanston family who had been living in a two-bedroom apartment that went into foreclosure [though they paid their rent to the owner]. Their kids will be able to remain in the same schools, they will be located a block away from grandparents and they will finally have the space and stability that they need to raise their four children,” said Rob Anthony, CPAH executive director.

The property is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with hardwood floors, full basement, a large yard and a two-car garage. The rehab included new appliances, furnace, hot water heater and central air.

“We include as many green features as possible,” said Amy Rosenfeld Kaufman, director of community relations for CPAH. “That keeps utilities down, and there are so many benefits of being green.”

The open house gave volunteers an opportunity to see the finished house and let the neighbors meet the new homeowners.

CPAH has already rehabbed about 60 houses, and four others are in the pipeline. Volunteers help when possible, to keep costs down.

“This place [near Greenleaf Street] has always been an eyesore,” said Susan Banach, a member of the community who volunteered at the workday on Greenleaf. “I’ve always wanted to see inside this place and I’ve always wanted to swing a sledgehammer.”

“It’s good for the neighborhood,” said Dan Brown when asked why he volunteered.