LACONIA — Nearly 100 members, residents, funders, and supporters of Laconia Area Community Land Trust (LACLT) recently gathered at the Belknap Mill to celebrate LACLT's 20th anniversary. State Senator Jeanie Forrester surprised founding Executive Director Linda L. Harvey with a NH Senate Resolution recognizing the Land Trust's 20 years of affordable housing development as well as Harvey's 20 years of service to LACLT.
In its 20 years, LACLT has developed 220 units of permanently affordable housing in 63 buildings in Laconia, Meredith, Tilton and Wolfeboro, co-developed 32 units in Belmont, and has 24 units now under construction in Wolfeboro. LACLT has provided housing and supportive services to more than 1,500 adults and children and is currently housing over 400 adults and children. At the same time, LACLT has provided transitional housing to 65 formerly homeless families; provided more than 2,000 people with free first-time home buyer and financial management education; created 285 first-time homeowners who purchased $42.4 million in real estate, invested $66+ million in the Lakes Region, and paid over $2 million in property taxes.
"The Land Trust is Laconia's Big Papi," commented Laconia's Mayor Mike Seymour, who served as the event's master of ceremonies. He added, "It wouldn't have happened without the passion of the staff, board and volunteers."
Outgoing Board Chair Peter Stewart welcomed new board members Rick Fogg of Alton and Geoff Ruggles of Gilford. Board member Kerri Lowe spoke of her journey as a single parent purchasing her first home with help from LACLT. Lowe also described her daughter's experience having lived in a LACLT property. "My daughter could move into a safe affordable place, and then she could plan the rest of her life," Lowe said, adding that as a board member, "I am a resident representative. I get to be a voice of the residents."
New Board Chair Ryan Barton addressed the group by video, noting that LACLT "impacts families so significantly, as it directly battles homelessness, unsafe housing, lack of family support, instability and it does so with a stewardship mentality, making the most of every resource available." Barton added, "The needs are great and I know of no better team, no more effective organization to address them, than the Laconia Area Community Land Trust."
The event was generously sponsored by Meredith Village Savings Bank and The Hodges Companies, with additional support from NeighborWorks® America. Food and beverage sponsors were T-Bones & CJ's of Laconia and Hermit Woods Winery, and the music was provided by Peter Brunette.