January 29, 2024

Blacksburg resident Victoria Lael has given a lasting gift to the community by donating her home to the New River Home Trust, a community land trust dedicated to ensuring affordable housing. Lael’s house now stands as one of six properties entrusted to the New River Home Trust since its inception in 2023, contributing to a growing stock of affordable homes in the New River Valley.

The New River Home Trust operates as a program under Community Housing Partners (CHP), whose mission is to create communities and homes that are healthy, sustainable, and affordable. Prior to the establishment of the New River Home Trust, Lael’s journey to homeownership began in 2019 with CHP’s housing counseling program, an experience she recalls fondly. “CHP helped me buy my first home when I was a single mom, and I was really grateful because it was an intimidating process, and they helped a lot,” Lael shared.

In 2023, now facing different financial circumstances, Lael and her husband, Lou Madsen, decided to sell her home at the cost of the mortgage payoff and donate the remaining equity to the New River Home Trust. Their decision ensures the home remains affordable, aligning with the trust’s core objectives.

“I know what it’s like to want the permanency and privacy that comes along with owning a home,” Victoria added. “I always thought if I didn’t need the home and if no one I know needed the home, I would love to sell it not for profit to someone who needed it.”

The sale closed in late 2023 and was unprecedented for the New River Home Trust and CHP, which assisted with ensuring the smooth transition of the property to its new owners. Both Montgomery County and the Town of Blacksburg contribute to the land trust, and this donation allows this collaborative effort to expand its reach even further.

Jake Powell, CHP’s Director of Homeownership, commended Lael’s focus on shared prosperity, stating, “Victoria and Lou’s decision to donate her home demonstrates the power of community. Their contribution not only strengthens the New River Home Trust but stands as an example for others, reminding us that every person can play a role in ensuring the availability of affordable housing for all.”

Reflecting on their decision, Lael said, “When I was raised, I benefited a lot from generous people helping me and my family, and my parents believed in helping those in need. I feel a strong sense of obligation to my community and humanity in general, and I believe if you have something to share, you share it.”

Anyone interested in donating a home to the New River Home Trust can contact CHP Homeownership at NRHT@chpc2.org or 540-260-9039. More information about purchasing a home through this program is available on the New River Home Trust website.