ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque is looking to make sure lower-income families don’t get priced out of a neighborhood growing in popularity. With the Sawmill market, exhibits, and even another hotel in the works for the Sawmill neighborhood, the area is growing fast.

The city is working with the non-profit Sawmill Community Land Trust to try and keep it affordable. “It’s a model for making sure that as that area develops and new and exciting things are coming in, that there continues to be homes in that neighborhood that are affordable to low and moderate-income Albuquerque residents,” said Lisa Huval, Deputy Director of Housing for Albuquerque’s Department of Family Community Services.

Legislation going to city council would free up $1.6 million to buy seven homes in a subdivision just behind the market, owned by the SCLT. The trust would then sell the homes to households that make up to 80% of the area’s median income. For example, a family of three with an income up to $48,600 would qualify.

Homeowners in the SCLT have had a tough time selling their houses due to leadership changes within the organization. The city’s help would speed up the process of selling to free up more homes.

“Out of fairness to those homeowners and to keep things moving, we are entering this contract with Sawmill to allow them to be able to purchase homes from those homeowners, so they can move on and do whatever they want to do,” said Huval.

SCLT would pay back the city as the houses get sold. The $1.6 million would come from the city’s Workforce Housing Trust Fund which is funded by local GO bonds. The legislation still has to be introduced to city council.