Want to know all that HRB does? Meet Marta. There isn’t a homeowner or renter in the HRB community who hasn’t gotten to know this committed and caring staff member.
Marta Holt has been the rental property and homeownership programs manager since 2018. However, her association with HRB dates back to 2010, as a onetime resident of Island Terrace, a former board member, and an interim staff member, coordinating home purchases and final touch development matters for Ferncliff Village. Marta has worked as a transportation planner for King County, run her own essential oil business (she made six custom scents for Prince before the Great Recession ended the business), and worked as a low-income and homeless housing program manager, analyst, and advocate in Kitsap County. She holds a master’s in public administration and is a licensed real estate broker. For a couple years, she worked as a realtor and at HRB at the same time, but when there weren’t enough hours in the day, she had to choose. “I chose HRB,” she says. “It’s a heart thing.”
With the community land trust model, a nonprofit owns and stewards land to ensure that affordable homes are available to the community in perpetuity. A meaningful but lesser-known aspect to this kind of land trust is the stewardship of the homes and the homeowners. Describe how this stewardship shows up in your work.
HRB provides financial stewardship to the homeowner’s association, ensuring that taxes and bills get paid and helping with budgets. We support individual homeowners during the process of qualifying for and buying a home and keeping up with mortgage payments and home maintenance. When homeowners experience temporary financial hardship, HRB can provide low interest loans and walk them through refinancing if they choose. We also offer protection from foreclosure by preemptively buying the house. When owners are ready to sell, we find a buyer who meets our income qualifications and facilitate the sale without charging a commission.
Many people may not realize that rentals are also part of the HRB community land trust. Describe how stewardship comes into play with these residents.
HRB owns and manages 42 units of rental housing for very low and low-income households. Our tenants tend to be people who have deep and lasting ties to Bainbridge, including adults working for local businesses and public institutions, as well as seniors and adults with disabilities who have been longtime valued members of the Bainbridge community.
We see our tenants as clients to be supported and advocated for, not as assets or liabilities on the bottom line of the books. The Housing Stabilization Program helps working adults become more financially self-sufficient by supporting them in achieving goals, such as finding higher paying employment, arranging childcare, obtaining professional certifications, or consolidating debt. Our Permanent Supportive Housing Program offers ongoing rental assistance to our seniors and tenants with disabilities who are on fixed incomes, leaving them with more money for expenses such as food and healthcare. HRB staff works with all our tenants to help them remain stably housed.
There are 40 homes in Ferncliff Village, the last ones completed in 2017. The first-generation homeowners are beginning to sell, with four re-sales just this past year. What does this mean to you and to the organization?
HRB is beginning to see original homeowners move on to the next stage of life. Young, first-time homebuyers have increased their earning potential as they’ve gained experience in their professions, and they have become ready to sell their Ferncliff Village homes and buy their first market rate-homes. The benefit of CLT homeownership is that they were able to save more money than they could as renters and also realize a small return on their investment, enough to have a sizeable down payment and make a competitive offer on a market-rate home. We’ve also had a couple of seniors, who had retired and downsized to CLT homeownership on fixed incomes, sell their homes as they’ve come to need more support in the late years of life. These homes were resold to qualified applicants on our waitlist at an affordable price, so that they too can benefit from a fixed monthly mortgage, tax deduction for mortgage interest, and the return of their principal plus some added equity to use as down payment when they become ready to buy their next home. And so on to the next buyer, in perpetuity.
What do you love about your job?
I love the people! I love working with our rental tenants and homeowners. I love seeing people strive and succeed and being a part of helping them make that happen. I love having people tell me that they feel safe, stable, and secure in their housing. I love my co-workers who all have a heart for the mission of providing safe and affordable housing to promote economic diversity and access to opportunity.