Our Home, Our Future
Series on Housing
Voices from our Salisbury community about the housing we need for a healthy, economically vibrant future
When an emergency arises you never know who will come to your aid. For Kendra Chapman, owner of the popular Black Rabbit Bar and Grill in Lakeville, and her fiancé Bryan Lundeen the emergency was learning, at the peak of the COVID-19, that the house they had rented for over four years was back on the market and they had less than three months to find a new home. They desperately searched for an affordable rental in our area and found none. They assumed that home ownership would be impossible since there were no homes available in their price range.
Then they learned about the Salisbury Housing Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to making single family homes affordable to local residents. With tax deductible donations from local families they acquire and build on raw land or buy modest homes. The Trust retains ownership of the underlying land through a ground lease arrangement. Since the buyer only pays for the dwelling, they save from 30-50% of what a house would normally cost.
When John Harney, co-president of the Housing Trust, showed them a house near Salisbury Central School, Kendra and Bryan fell in love with it. Once they decided to buy it, it seemed the whole town worked together to make it happen within the two and a half months they had before they had to move. Kendra says “It felt like a miracle had happened. It melts my heart, all the people who helped us. John helped us through the whole process. Susan Dickinson at the Litchfield Bancorp was super helpful with our mortgage and Mark Capecelatro got the legal work done in record time. Owning a home has changed our lives drastically. Since the market rate is more than double our purchase price, we don’t care that we don’t own the land. We look around and go WOW! We have a home and love our neighborhood. Our mortgage is half of what we were paying in rent.” They are “super happy” to have something of their own and with the money they’re saving are planting fruit trees and a garden and enjoying the outdoors. Kendra wants to “repay the favor” by doing long term improvements to the house so it’s really nice for the next owner. She’s even willing to do a fund raiser to help others have the same opportunity she’s had.
Kendra and Bryan have lived around Salisbury for 20 years and love the community. Loyal patrons of the Black Rabbit have kept it going this year with take-out orders, friends have helped them work on the house and new neighbors have stopped by to welcome them. Thanks to the Salisbury Housing Trust and their generous donors they can stay in our town and remain part of our community. Sometimes, when you’re very lucky, the outcome of an emergency can be joy.
Mary Close Oppenheimer is a local artist who has been part of the Lakeville/Salisbury community for 30 years.