The College Park Community Preservation Trust celebrated its first home sale Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the residence, marking the group’s first major accomplishment in making home ownership more affordable in the city.
The trust worked with Calvert Hills resident William Whichard to help him purchase a home in which he was previously a tenant. The home’s previous owners, Sean and Lisa Murphy, sold the house to Whichard at a reduced price through the trust.
The trust, which was established in May as part of the College Park City-University Partnership, operates by purchasing homes at market value from sellers and working with buyers from middle-or-lower-income brackets to find a manageable sale price. Housing trusts retain ownership of the land homes sit on — meaning buyers only purchase the house itself, lowering costs.
About two years ago, Whichard started the process of buying the same Calvert Hills home the Murphys’ rented to him for almost a decade. Whichard said he learned about and partnered with the community preservation trust after a conversation with his cousin, who is friends with someone working for the trust.
Whichard pointed to the community as the reason for purchasing the home.
“I enjoyed the neighborhood, I have nice relationships with my neighbors,” he said. “I just became part of the community.”
Sean Murphy called the partnership with the trust a perfect scenario.
“I just wasn’t a seller, but I was also a friend of the person that was purchasing,” he said.
The trust has been in the works since 2021, but the idea of an affordable home ownership initiative in the city was around for years before that, according to Daniel Cunningham, the trust’s executive director. He said the city-university partnership’s Vision 2030 strategic plan — where one of the core components was housing — helped the trust come to fruition.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, housing prices in Maryland have steadily increased since 2012.
Tawfiq Abdul-Karim, senior associate at the trust, pointed to the competitive housing market as a reason for rising prices in the area. Cunningham added that rising housing prices combined with stagnating wages lead to a more challenging road to home ownership.
Whichard implored homeowners in the area to reach out to the trust if they’re looking to sell their properties. He said at Wednesday’s event that city residents should follow the Murphy family’s example to support the trust’s mission.
Kate Kennedy, who represents District 1 on the College Park City Council and helped start the trust, said community land trusts are not very common, so College Park’s work in this sector is unique.
“[It’s] making housing more … accessible to more people and also helping to keep the homes in College Park homeowner-occupied,” she said.
Susan Hartmann, the city-university partnership’s executive director, said at Wednesday’s ceremony the trust’s first sale was a realization of hope.
“It provides an opportunity for residents to continue to participate over the long term in the community,” Hartmann said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Tawfiq Abdul-Karim’s name. This story has been updated.