CLAM sells second home

David Briggs
Annemarie Russo accepted a basket of gifts at a celebration of her new affordable home purchase. At the left are Eric Oldmixon and Sarah Myers, who purchased the first affordable home aquired by the Community Land Trust Association of West Marin.  

About 40 people gathered last Thursday to watch Annemarie Russo and Jacob Levya receive the keys to their new home in Point Reyes Station. 

The couple purchased the house from the Community Land Trust Association of West Marin at below market value through a mechanism that keeps the land in CLAM’s ownership. 

Kim Thompson, the executive director of CLAM, explained that should the new owners decide to sell it at some point, they will be able to make a modest profit while ensuring that the home remains affordable for another family. 

“It is long-term affordable housing,” Ms. Thompson said. 

A band, Los Padres, played—featuring Mr. Levya on guitar—and attendees dodged raindrops on the wet afternoon. 

“It is rainy, but they made the sun shine today,” Supervisor Dennis Rodoni said as he congratulated the family. 

A basket of gifts was passed around so that everyone in the crowd could place their hands on it, a symbol of collective support for the family. 

Ms. Russo, who works as the literacy coordinator at the local library and has delivered numerous local babies through her midwifery work, said how special she felt to be part of the experience. 

“The enthusiasm of the community is amazing,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting this beautiful blessing.” 

The home was originally part of an affordable housing development by EAH Housing. Because of losing funding, in 2005, EAH had to sell seven homes at market rate in order to complete the other 22 in the development. 

“This was a big wound and there was a lot of bitterness,” Ms. Thompson said. “When one of them came up for sale, we felt that, symbolically, we could win it back for the community.” 

CLAM bought the three-bedroom home for $839,000 with help from both institutional funding and donations from supporters of the trust; the nonprofit sold it to Ms. Russo and Mr. Levya for $384,200. 

Last Thursday, children ran in and out of the house snacking on cookies and pie while donors, CLAM board members, community members and friends enjoyed the food and lively music. 

Mr. Levya is a school bus driver in Bolinas. The couple has three children. “We feel so lucky,” he said.