Now the area is home to Silicon Valley implants and Loeb’s property is worth over $1 million.
Loeb, who lives on Social Security benefits and a limited rental income from two separate units on her property, has been facing a dilemma last year. She couldn’t afford to maintain the buildings, which needed roofing and sewer repairs, but she couldn’t stand the idea of increasing rent for tenants or moving.
“I couldn’t do that,” she says of charging market prices for her rent. “It was very strange being a landlord after all my experience as a tenant.”
I’ve found common ground with the Community Land Trust of West Marin (CLAM), an organization whose mission is to ensure Marin County remains affordable for low- and middle-income residents.
This year, Loeb sold her holdings to CLAM at half its market value. She is the first participant in the Trust-in-place initiative that allows old homeowners to stay in their homes while the Trust takes over maintenance.
When Loeb dies, CLAM will convert the property into affordable housing units, helping alleviate the housing crisis affecting the Bay Area. “There will be three affordable units,” Loeb says. “It makes me feel happy.”
Loeb says aging in place is important when you live in a society for as long as it is. She remembers the people who asked her why she didn’t sell the property for its value. “Where will I live?” It was her response. “I have to leave here.”
Loeb says her roots are deep in the community: “I know a lot of people, and a lot of people know me.” She remembers going to the post office recently with her 6-year-old grandson who turned to her after he noticed her greeting everyone she passed by. “He said, ‘You should know everyone,'” she said. “And so am I.”
When CLAM acquires a property, the organization can decide to sell or rent it as affordable housing, according to Pam Doer, executive director of the fund. CLAM currently has 66 people and owns 18 rental units.
The organization has also coordinated two home properties. “Real estate is always within easy reach, and the land under the homes is held in perpetuity through the land trust, so it’s community-controlled housing,” says Dorr.
West Marin started changing soon after Loeb bought her home. “Oh my God, I don’t know how we’re going to make this mortgage,” she remembers wondering, and the realtor assured her that in just a few years the payments would be the same as the monthly rent in the area. He was certainly right, and the prices kept going up.
Loeb’s decision to sell was as beneficial to CLAM as it was to her. “It’s a very challenging environment to create affordable housing and get real estate,” CLAM Program Director Ruth Lopez says of the Marin County real estate market. “We cannot buy real estate at market price and turn it into affordable housing projects.”
She says that since Loeb sold her home to CLAM, the trust has seen interest from older members of the community in the “Age in Place” initiative.
Dor says the initiative has strong community support. “A lot of people who live in the community want to make sure that essential workers, teachers, and people who work in the bakery can live in their workplace,” she says.
Dor says the community land credit is a more flexible model of affordable housing than the more common model built with low-income tax credits, which support the acquisition, construction and renewal of affordable rentals. “[That model] It takes too long and really excludes the local community from making decisions about how to manage housing,” she says, adding that only qualified developers can develop this model of housing.
Affordable housing built with lower income tax credits often comes with minimal unit requirements. “In rural areas, you wouldn’t normally have that kind of intensity,” Dor says.
CLAM’s approach to affordable housing, specifically its Age in Place initiative, includes a philosophical shift in thinking about community development. “It’s a pivot away from how much I can get and what’s best for me to what’s best for my community,” Lopez says. “This shift in thinking is what will ease the housing crisis.”
Bobby says it was a sense of community that drove her to stay in Marin County all these years. Decades ago, a boiler exploded in one of the units on the property, burning her ex-husband and young daughter while the unit burned. While they spent several weeks in the hospital, the entire community worked together to rebuild the unit before they returned.
She says that hasn’t changed. “People help each other out here,” Loeb says. “They are looking for each other here. It’s just a wonderful community.”
This story originally appeared on Fortune.com