The Future of Affordable Homeownership in Houston
Incorporated in 2018 as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit, Houston Community Land Trust is guided by the belief that secure, quality, affordable homeownership is a foundation on which families build legacy and cultivate opportunity, both for themselves and for their community. Our mission is to make affordable homeownership achievable for limited-income households in Houston by connecting qualified homebuyers with perpetually affordable homes in neighborhoods across our city. We also provide stewardship services and support to help homebuyers find long-term success in homeownership.
Houston Community Land Trust is grounded in the principles of community empowerment, equitable access to high-quality housing, and a long-term vision for protecting future affordability for all Houstonians.
Ashley Paige Allen serves as the Executive Director of the Houston Community Land Trust. She brings to the role 14 years of non-profit leadership experience. Her previous work includes serving as the Director of Postsecondary Programs at Horizons for Youth, an educational and social services non-profit in Chicago, IL and developing S.T.E.M education and workforce development programs within the biotech industry. Ashley has been a community organizer for 10 years, advocating around the issues of affordable housing, homelessness and education. She helped draft and pass the Students in Temporary Living Situations policy, which now provides educational support to over 20,000 Chicago Public School students. Ashley has also served as a consultant with the Barack Obama Foundation, where she assisted in the planning and roll-out of the foundation’s first outreach initiatives and internship program. She is a presenter and speaker at conferences and events all over the country. She holds a B.S. in Food Science from Florida A&M University, an M.P.A from Governors State University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Cultural and Educational Policy with a concentration in Sociology at Loyola University Chicago.
Novella Bean serves as Intake Manager at Houston Community Land Trust. Her responsibilities include assisting homebuyers in qualifying for HCLT programs and coordinating with HCLT's community partners. In addition to over 18 years of professional real estate experience, Novella’s desire to improve communities’ quality of life and the health of residents suffering from preventable diseases drives her extensive volunteer work. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Texas Southern University and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Houston.
Real Estate Manager
Darren Blakemore serves as Houston Community Land Trust's Real Estate Manager. With an educational and professional background in operations management, real estate tax consultation, and commercial and residential sales, Darren brings experience to his role in assisting homebuyers and their realtors with CLT home purchases. For over fifteen years, Darren has developed a deep knowledge of residential and commercial real estate, real estate investment and income producing strategies. Darren continues to keep abreast of the current real estate market in his current role. Prior to joining Houston Community Land Trust, Darren served as a Senior Real Estate Consultant with LJ Group Real Estate.
Director of Programs
Nina Culotta is the Director of Programs at Houston Community Land Trust, responsible for overseeing HCLT’s affordable housing programs. She holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law and a Bachelors Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from New York University. Prior to joining HCLT, Ms. Culotta worked as a real estate attorney with Baker Botts L.L.P. She is a former HCLT board member with in-depth experience providing legal and operational support to community land trusts in Texas.
Erika Villatoro is our Homebuyer Specialist. Erika works closely with the Homebuyer Support Coordinator to guide homebuyers through the application and qualification process. Erika is currently earning her Bachelor in Finance from the University of Houston - Downtown. She holds an Associate Degree in Business from Houston Community College. Erika brings nine years of customer service experience to her position. In addition, Erika serves as Humanitarian Aid Coordinator, a teacher, and an active member of her ministry, Palabra de Restauracion, where she regularly leads community events and teaches classes.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DR. ASSATA RICHARDS
Assata is the founding director of the Sankofa Research Institute (SRI), which is a nonprofit with a mission to “create knowledge to build community.” To accomplish its mission, SRI employs Community-Based Participatory Research to work collaboratively with academic researchers, community organizations, and funders to generate empirical evidence to inform social change. Some of SRI’s current and past project partners include Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Dance Source Houston, Project Row Houses, St. Anne Catholic Church, and CHRISTUS Health Foundation. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and went on to earn a master’s and a doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University. She has extensive training in quantitative and qualitative research methods and analyses. After serving on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to Houston, Texas, to work with Project Row Houses (PRH), a nationally and internationally recognized public arts organization that utilizes art as a transformative mechanism for revitalizing economically-depressed urban communities. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Houston, teaching courses in the sociology department and the arts leadership program. As a public sociologist, Assata serves as the Board President of the newly formed Houston Community Land Trust, the Third Ward Cooperative Community Builders, and the Emancipation Economic Development Council, which is a people-focus and place-based effort to revitalize, preserve, and protect a historic African-American community in Houston, Texas. Most recently, she was elected as the founding board president of the Community Care Cooperative, which is Houston’s first home care agency owned by certified nurse assistants and committed to serving aging residents living in the historic communities of Third Ward and Fifth Ward.