The Village Model is a collaborative, community-based approach to building and sustaining permanently affordable housing. This page provides a high-level planning tool for strategically scaling the Village Model. It seeks to inform and mobilize a broad range of stakeholders around a vision that is both actionable and transformative—meaning it can be accomplished in the world as it currently exists, yet it also points in a direction of broader change in how we think about housing.
To do this, we have reimagined affordable housing is three keys ways: Ownership Structure, Physical Form, and Financing Strategy. Each of these innovative components is described in detail on the pages that follow. And since we can’t do this alone, we conclude with a section on Collaboration in which we outline opportunities for partnering to bring this vision to fruition on a larger scale.
The Village Model provides financially accessible and sustainable housing by combining two forms of shared-equity homeownership: a Community Land Trust and a Limited Equity Cooperative.
In this arrangement, SquareOne (or another entity) acts as a Community Land Trust (CLT) and retains ownership of the underlying land, while residents form a Limited Equity Co-operative (LEC) that owns and manages the housing and improvements on the land. The result is a sustainable form of homeownership, accessible to people with very low-incomes. It includes strong affordability controls to ensure that the housing stock remains permanently affordable for future generations to come. This multi-layered ownership structure has proven to be a safer financial investment and a more prudent use of resources when compared to the conventional housing market.
The Village Model clusters compact residential dwellings around shared community spaces and resources—providing significant economic, environmental, and social benefits.
Known as a Tiny House Village, this physical form combines the privacy and autonomy of a single-family house with the greater density and economy associated with a multi-family building. However, it replaces hallways and elevators with meandering pathways and common areas. The space between houses creates a medium for casual social interactions, fostering a strong sense of community and belonging among neighbors. Building small also reduces material and energy demand during construction, and offers lower maintenance and utility bills over the life of the home. Furthermore, it offers a more approachable scale for activating citizen involvement in all stages of housing development—including advocacy, planning, fundraising, and construction.
The Village Model adopts a scalable financing strategy that includes a sustainable mix of resident equity, public subsidies, debt financing, and charitable contributions.
Public funding available for new affordable housing construction remains inadequate, and often adds unnecessary complexity and cost to new development. By diversifying our funding sources while keeping expenses low through a combination of affordability strategies, we believe our Village Model is uniquely positioned to maximize the social return on investment when compared to other forms of low-income housing. If debt can be kept at sustainable levels through one-time capital subsidies, housing co-ops enable low-income residents to cover the cost to operate their housing without dependence on ongoing subsidies. Furthermore, the CLT-LEC ownership structure ensures that the housing developed will be retained at affordable rates in perpetuity, helping family after family access shared-equity homeownership. With the ability to operate at cost while also ensuring permanent affordability, the Village Model is an ideal vehicle for investments in affordable housing.
The Village Model is founded on building equity through diverse community collaborations for creating more affordable housing opportunities.
In developing this framework plan we hope to collaborate with 1) other nonprofit housing developers that can help build more villages, 2) lending institutions and social investors that can help finance more villages, and 3) public policy makers that can advocate for and guide new legislation and funding sources to support this model. In this section we take a look at each of these potential collaborators in more detail, along with opportunities for partnering in scaling the Village Model.