The UEP properties in Arizona have now been subdivided. Prior to the subdivision, lots were apportioned in large parcels which made it impossible for individuals to obtain deeds for individual lots. Among the difficulties that arise from that situation are tax payment and no way to obtain financing to purchase the homes, which is one of the primary goals of the UEP Trust. There are around 400 properties that will be potential housing opportunities for trust participants.
For tax purposes, the large parcels made it so that multiple occupants of the land were collectively responsible for the payment of taxes on the entire parcel, putting the UEP property at risk of being sold off at auction. If the occupants of even one lot in a given parcel were delinquent, all the lots were at risk. There has been difficulty communicating with some members of the community because their religious beliefs bar them from working with the Trust, leading to evictions. These dynamics conflict with one of their primary responsibilities of the UEP Board of Trustees, which is to protect and maintain the assets of the trust. It also places existing and prospective homeowners at a disadvantage, creating uncertainty and difficulty advancing the growth and prosperity of the town.
In a public meeting led by Jeff Barlow, the executive director of the trust, the implications of the subdivision were outlined along with the process for applying for occupancy of residential trust assets, and the path toward eventual ownership. For individuals that are interested in a path toward ownership, you can reach out to the UEP Trust either online or in person to obtain detailed information. The first priority will be given to individuals who have built their homes and there will be subsequent categorizations based upon specific criteria. The trustees will determine in which classification a prospective applicant may belong, using information provided in a petition, which can be obtained online or in person.
There are nine different criteria that are considered in providing benefits to Trust participants. These criteria help the Trustees apportion discounts on the properties based on individual merit and contribution. It was stressed in the meeting that efforts to protect trust assets by donating to past due taxes and to other fees that could put the Trust assets in jeopardy, is a primary point considered by the board. Beyond that, good faith efforts to build up the properties and work openly with the Trust will help the board determine a participant’s discount on a property they wish to eventually own.
Financing is a big concern for any trust participant that wishes to eventually own a home. While the merit-based discounts can be substantial, financing can sometimes be elusive. The Trust has teamed with Allen Mortgage to help provide seller financing, meaning that you are essentially borrowing from the Trust. The seller financing option was created for Trust participants that are unable to go through the standard channels to obtain funding. The board of trustees will determine whether a participant qualifies for this option, based on their past contributions and working relationship with the trust. It is designed to be a need-based temporary option. It is easier to refinance an existing mortgage than obtaining a new one through the standard avenues. The seller financing option will come at a higher interest rate to encourage refinancing as soon as possible.
This development is exciting for many because it has the potential to bring huge changes to the community. With a clear path to individual ownership of properties, there is great potential for changes in the political structure of the community, new business opportunities, outside investment, and much more. The UEP trust will be working actively with all trust participants over the next few years. It was stressed repeatedly in the meeting that they are willing to work with anyone that has a legitimate stake in the community, regardless of their religious affiliation.