The Litchfield Housing Trust Celebrates 25 Years

1989-2014
Twenty-five years ago the Litchfield Housing Trust (LHT) was formed as a non-profit organization to ensure that Litchfield always has homes available for people of a wide income range. Established in 1989, LHT is a 501C-3 non-profit with a local volunteer board. It began with a vision for permanently affordable housing in Litchfield, and today can be proud of the 48 affordable homes it has helped create. The properties are scattered throughout greater Litchfield.

Over the past twenty-five years, Litchfield housing prices have increased much faster than median incomes. Litchfield had always been a community providing housing opportunities to families of all incomes, and of all age ranges. The lack of affordable housing has been especially difficult for young families. The Litchfield Housing Trust was created to strengthen our community by advocating, facilitating, and developing housing so that Litchfield could once again become affordable families of all income levels.

Mission
To provide housing opportunities in Litchfield for families with incomes under 80% of the median:

  • So that people who work here can live here.
  • So that families, young and old, will not have to leave the Town to find affordable housing.
  • So that Litchfield will be affordable to a diverse population.

Litchfield’s Plan of Conservation and Development (as well as that of the State of Connecticut) has set objectives for the number of affordable/workforce housing. Our job is to work with the Town and State to achieve those objectives.

To Be Eligible
To purchase a home or rent an apartment from the LHT the applicant must have a gross family income below 80 percent of area Median Family Income; and in the case of home ownership must be able to secure a mortgage.

Our History and Track Record
In 1988 Articles of Incorporation for the Litchfield Housing Trust were signed at a meeting held on 28 December 1988 at the home of Jamie and Andrew Gagarin. The original incorporators were: Joyce Briggs, Janet Katzin, Louis Donne, Cleveland Fuessenich, Barbara Brower, David Huff, F.R. Petricone, C.H. Huvelle and Andrew Gagarin, President. The Trust became a 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code on 14 December 1989.

The Trust received a gift from Andrew and Jamie Gagarin of a parcel of land comprising some 35.878 acres lying between Gallows Lane and Woodruff Street in the Borough of Litchfield. The gift was made with the express purpose of providing Litchfield with permanent affordable housing and protecting open space. A Ground Breaking Ceremony for the LHT’s initial home was held on the 4th of June, 1991, followed by the dedication of the Tannery Brook complex on Friday, the 23rd of October 1992 with Governor Lowell Weicker as the main speaker. The complex was completed in the fall of 1992 and contained 16 limited equity co-operatives and 11 single family homes.

From 1994 to 1997 the Scattered Sites program allowed the Housing Trust and eligible families to purchase existing homes, adding an additional 9 single family homes.

At the request of the Department of Housing of the State of Connecticut, the Trust submitted a five-year projection for development of affordable housing in Litchfield, which was the foundation of the scattered site acquisitions. The positive relationship with the State has continued to this day.

The State, in cooperation with private donors, has been instrumental in the Housing Trust‘s development of an additional 12 homes scattered throughout Litchfield, bringing the total number of homes in the Litchfield Housing Trust program to 48. These additional 12 homes included a combination of renovation of existing properties and construction of new ones. They provided families with both rental and home ownership opportunities.

The most recent addition to the trust’s properties resulted from the renovation of the Northfield Firehouse into two three bedroom rental apartments (one of which is handicapped accessible). Recognizing the impact of energy costs on home occupancy, these two apartments incorporate innovative energy saving systems including geothermal heating and cutting edge insulation.

The Town of Litchfield, and each of its First Selectman since 1989, have been strong promoters of affordable housing and have encouraged the Trust as it developed properties in the community. These homes pay property taxes to the Town of Litchfield. As a Community Land Trust, the Trust also manages approximately 50 acres of open space in Litchfield. LHT’s web site – www.litchfieldhousingtrust.org – posts listings of our available owner-occupied homes and rental properties. In addition, the Trust utilizes the MLS and Litchfield real estate brokers.

Examples of Our Families’ Careers and Community Involvement
Our families work in local offices, medical facilities, and banks as well as for the Town of Litchfield. They deliver oil, repair appliances, teach our children, program computers, protect our streets, work in the building trades, and own small retail businesses. They also volunteer with emergency services and local not-for-profit groups, and run for and serve in elected offices. Here is what a few residents have to say:

  • “The Litchfield Housing Trust has played a very important role in the town of Litchfield. It has helped many families with finding affordable housing.”
  • “The Housing Trust is an invaluable asset in our community. I am very proud to be a part of it.”
  • “Litchfield Housing Trust provided me with an affordable and comfortable home. I live with pride and dignity in this beautiful town, thanks to the Trust.”
  • “I have a severe disability and the Litchfield Housing Trust gave me the opportunity to live in an affordable home with my family that was fully accessible for my needs. The Litchfield Housing Trust was very accommodating from the moment I moved in. I am and always will be grateful for the Litchfield Housing Trust!”

What Litchfield Realtors Have Said

  • “New housing stock created in Litchfield tends to be priced above median values in Litchfield County. The Housing Trust fills in the gap by providing affordable housing to encourage young families and individuals to remain in the town where they grew up. This diversity in our population adds to the vibrancy of our community; hats off to the Litchfield Housing Trust!”
  • “We have had a long and fruitful relationship with the Litchfield Housing Trust. Several transactions have proved not only beneficial to Litchfield, but also to the clients that have been able to secure affordable housing.”
  • “In its 25 years, the Trust has pioneered the way for small Connecticut towns to maintain themselves as places where valued citizens with a wide range of economic status contribute to the vitality, safety, health and social cohesion of their communities. It is now a model for this effort.”

The Future
Today slightly less than 5% of Litchfield’s housing is considered affordable. Therefore, the Housing Trust continues to explore opportunities for additional families of low to moderate income to obtain high quality, energy efficient, housing.

Awards to Litchfield Housing Trust for the Quality of Its Affordable Housing Initiatives

  • National Community Development Association (NCDA) for the exemplary and innovative use of Community Development Block Grants
  • Connecticut Community Development Association for the adaptive reuse of the Northfield Fire House
  • Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association, Inc. For outstanding achievement in providing affordable housing opportunities to Connecticut residents

Current LHT Board Members are: Robert Petricone, President; Joyce Briggs, Vice-President; Barbara Brower, Secretary; Miles Borzilleri, Treasurer; Terry Sheron; Kelli Green; Rene Fisher; John Baker; Cleveland Fuessenich; Peter Gay; Jeffery Zullo; Mark Murphy and Louis Donne.

Financing Has Been Provided By

  • Connecticut Clean Energy Fund
  • Community Development Block Grant Program
  • Connecticut Housing Finance Authority
  • Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Connecticut Department of Housing
  • Litchfield Bancorp
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • People’s United Bank
  • Seherr-Thoss Foundations
  • Torrington Savings Bank
  • Union Savings Bank
  • Webster Bank
  • And Individual Community Members