Ashley and Danny both grew up in Bloomington and wanted to raise their children in the community they’ve always called home.

“We started saving for our first house after our second child was born in 2012.  Our two children shared a bedroom and by November 2016 we were more than ready to move out of our small apartment and buy our first home.”

The couple was excited to start looking at homes with their realtor until they found out their pre-approved home loan of $185,000 was only enough to look at fixer uppers that often sold for $20,000 or more above the asking price.  “I was sad but our realtor kept sending us daily listings until one day – February 16, 2017 – the nicest house ever in a great part of town was listed by Homes Within Reach,” said Ashley. “This was the first land trust home in Bloomington and it came about at the right time for us while we were searching for a house in Bloomington that we could afford.”

The mission of the not for profit organization, West Hennepin Affordable Land Trust (WHAHLT), dba Homes Within Reach (HWR), is to create and preserve affordable homeownership for work-force families living and working in the suburban communities of Hennepin County. HWR offers qualified work-force families the opportunity to purchase a home by using the Community Land Trust practice which removes the land from the mortgage equation and leases the land at a nominal fee, which reduces the mortgage, down payment and closing costs.

“We would never have been able to get this house without HWR. Every house in Bloomington was out of our reach. When we saw the house on the MLS, I immediately went to the library to download, complete and scan the application to HWR. The HWR staff were amazing through the entire process – from applying, qualifying and acquiring our first home.”

“I was so determined and I got what I wanted,” she said. “We attended a homestretch class that taught us about what you should look for in a house. We learned what to expect for closing costs.  I wish we would have taken this class before we started looking for a home.”

Before the family moved into their home, HWR provided energy savings rehab, installed new flooring in the basement and carpeted the stairs. “The HWR staff are great people and they really wanted what was best for us; they wanted to help us.”

The couple agree, “This is the best thing that has happened to our whole family. We each have our own space. It was the best house for us – three bedrooms, finished basement, backyard, a three season porch which has become the favorite place for our cats, and a two car attached garage. We live next to a wildlife marsh and see so much wildlife and have access to so many nature areas for walks and fishing. We know the area completely and we feel safe here.”

Growing up, Danny lived in apartments his entire life and Ashley’s family home foreclosed in 2007.  Today they are homeowners in Bloomington and their children will soon be attending the same elementary school where their mother once was a student.

“We want our kids to grow up here. This neighborhood is peaceful and our neighbors are amazing and very giving to our family – sharing gardening tips and even giving our children small gifts. Owning our home is a complete dream come true. It’s our new beginning.”