SLV housing coalition aligns with Center

CENTER — Dawn Melgares with the San Luis Valley Housing Market Study addressed the Center town board Tuesday, Aug. 25, with long range plans to develop housing in Center. The presentation was of special interest to the town which is in the process of annexing 90 plus acres of the Consaul property on the edge of Center.

At the end of Melagres presentation, Center trustees and the mayor approved a resolution to further engage in the study. The project is explained by Melagres below.

The SLV Housing Coalition cohort is made up of more than 25 leaders from around the Valley who saw a problem with current housing and came together to find the solution. Hard evidence to support the theory was needed so a cohort evolved, and the idea of a valley wide housing study began.

In order to find funding for any types of housing, especially affordable housing, a housing study was needed that would show what current housing looks like and what it should look like given current population and expected growth. Data was needed to support more housing across the Valley and many different organizations, contractors, and developers worked to develop a list of necessary data.

The main focus is on areas underserved by affordable housing and demonstrating multiple types of housing needs. Some 10-11 towns exhibit such needs and have never had a study done before or previous studies are so old they no longer have useful data needed to fund new projects. This study will be done in stages, starting from general needs and progressing to the particular needs of each community.

The City of Alamosa is doing their own study, which both current funders also donated to so will not be included. Monte Vista has a fairly recent study that still has data that can be used as a starting point for funding. The information we collect from the communities we look at will give us the list of the most critical housing needs so we can start researching solutions to meet these needs.

This information can help determine what types of housing are missing from each community so those types can be brought to these areas. Assistance may be needed to revive the current housing stock and funding sources like the Colorado Division of Housing, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), HUD, USDA-Rural Development, and other funders including local banks can be consulted. These funds allow for affordable and market rate units to be brought to underserved areas of the Valley.

Our budget is $272,000 after negotiating a decrease from $12k a community to $10k for our deep dive, 4 of which are located in Saguache County which is more than any other county in the Valley. $140,000 has already been raised through generous donations and grants from The Colorado Health Foundation and CHFA. SLV Health has also pledged to financially contribute $10,000 to the study to help look at workforce housing throughout the Valley.

This leaves about $122k left to raise with a potential to have DOLA contribute $60,000 if one jurisdiction will apply and be responsible for helping raise an additional $60,000. With this each of the 14 communities will be asked to contribute financially up to $3,000 depending on the size of the community. The Cohort will then help raise the balance of that community’s $10,000 cost through grants, donations and other means.

Cost for the study have been reduced to only $13,600 per county or town, for a total of 20 studies. Current donations will further reduce this cost to only $6,100 per county or town. The cohort also has agreed to continue to apply for grants and reach out for donations to help bring this cost down to $3,000 or less per community, based on size.

The Town of Center can contribute to the study in two ways. First, a financial donation to the study of $3,000. If this seems too high for the community the coalition and its cohorts are willing to adjust this amount. Second, the jurisdiction must apply for the DOLA matching grant. This grant would cover the $120,000 to be able to include all 14 communities the cohort has decided to study.

DOLA would contribute $1 for every $1 raised up to $60,000 as long as each of the 14 jurisdictions make a financial contribution. Saguache county has the most communities and the Town of Center has the most experience with DOLA grants. After speaking with DOLA representatives and Brian Lujan with the Town of Center, the group felt Center would be the perfect jurisdiction for this grant.

The SLV Housing Coalition and the cohort have agreed to help write and monitor the grant along with Lujan and his staff. They will help raise matching funds for what jurisdictions contribute by marketing the $1 community donation will get a $3 match, essentially with $1 from the jurisdiction and $2 from DOLA until each meets their contribution max. In return the Town of Center will get recognition for their contributions and the data needed to apply for future funding regarding housing.

Millions in Division of Housing funding is expected in the next two to five years and this study will put the Valley on the radar for this funding. This study also will be utilized by the Saguache Housing Authority, Center Housing Authority, and Moffat School District to look at affordable and workforce housing projects. There is also a developer in Crestone interested in building more affordable housing options in Crestone, Moffat, and Hooper areas if the data shows a need.

With $122,000 still to raise we can always use a financial donation of any kind. Individuals can help as well. Contact Lujan for more information at 754-3497.


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