Central Peaks Focuses on Affordable Housing
As the Central Peaks Regional Council sought to determine their next focus area, they held a Town Hall meeting in February 2018 to seek community input on the major concerns and issues facing the region. Affordable housing emerged as one of the region’s most significant challenges and as a challenge participants felt could benefit from philanthropic efforts. The Council then held the Affordable Housing Summit in Salida to convene leaders in affordable housing from each county (Chaffee, Custer, Freemont and Park Counties) and to further discuss the issue. The 20 attendees included El Pomar staff, Central Peaks Regional Council members and community leaders. Building on the conversations at the Affordable Housing Summit, the Council discussed the best strategies for contributing to affordable housing efforts in the region. The Council elected to fund an affordable housing project in each county, allotting up to $40,000 to each project. The Council then sent a letter to each county’s housing authority, or an organization that serves a similar role in counties without a housing authority, informing them of the $40,000 grant and intention, and requesting project proposals. The Council received the counties’ proposals in early 2019, and reviewed the proposals in April. The following $40,000 grants were recommended:
•The grant will create the Chaffee County Rental Security Deposit Program to subsidize move-in costs, which typically include first and last month’s rent and a security deposit, for low-income renters.
•The program will provide landlords with a security deposit guarantee (not to exceed $1,500) through the Chaffee County Office of Housing, while eligible tenants pay the deposit back over time without interest. The program will potentially serve up to 26 households in its first year.
•The grant will facilitate the county’s purchase of nine lots in Silver Cliff.
•Specifically, the County hopes to subsidize the tap fees or other development fees for the lots to help make the final housing more affordable.
•$3,000 will be used to reduce the cost of three homes, enabling the Self Help participants to qualify for DOLA Rural Development loans on these homes. The Self Help program is similar to Habitat for Humanity’s sweat equity model, where participants are involved in the construction of their home.
•The remaining $37,000 will be used to construct a retaining wall between current low-income mobile home housing and 13 plotted sweat equity lots, seven of which have already been designated to families. The retaining wall would improve the drainage for the lots and the mobile home park, allowing for the development of the 13 plotted sweat equity lots.
•Park County Commissioners proposed constructing duplex housing units to be made available to teachers, law enforcement and county employees.
•The Council’s grant would purchase building materials for the construction of the first duplex.
The Council will meet again in late summer to review progress reports from the grantee partners and to discuss their commitment to affordable housing as the Council’s long-term focus area. For now, they are pleased with their contribution toward affordable housing and are excited to see strides being made in their communities to address this complex issue.
by Kaitlin Johnson