Homesharing could address both aging in place and low-cost rental needs

Tags

,

Homesharing could address both aging in place and low-cost rental needs

COMMENTARY: Affordable Housing in Lyons

Published in the Oct. 13, 2019, edition of the Redstone Review.

 

By Amy Reinholds
Redstone Review

LYONS – Seeking programs that help both our local aging population and renters who need low-cost options, the Lyons Housing and Human Services Commission is intrigued with homesharing ideas.

According to the National Shared Housing Resource Center, “Homesharing enables two (or more) unrelated people to share housing for their mutual benefit. A person offers a private bedroom and shared common area in exchange for rent, help around the house or a combination of the two. Every homesharing arrangement is unique. It’s about people helping people.”

We have seen two models of homesharing in Colorado related to empty-nesters and aging baby boomers: a non-profit approach like the Neighbor to Neighbor HomeShare program in Larimer County, and an online matching business approach like Silvernest, started by a Colorado entrepreneur inspired by concerns her own mother faced living alone. Rather than housemates just finding each other through mutual friends or social media, these programs are more structured and provide some support, an approach the Housing and Human Services Commission wants to encourage in this challenging housing market.

Neighbor to Neighbor HomeShare program in Larimer County

Since its HomeShare program started in 2018, the Larimer County nonprofit Neighbor to Neighbor has matched about six pairs of homeowners aged 55 and older (called “HomeProviders”) and renters (called “HomeSeekers”) who are looking for an affordable housemate situation.

A person offers a private bedroom and shared common space in exchange for low-cost rent, help around the home, or a combination of the two. Neighbor to Neighbor facilitates the HomeShare program by providing a housing counselor to help match HomeProvider participants with HomeSeeker participants with compatable lifestyles. Neighbor to Neighbor interviews, screens, and runs background checks on all applicants to identify appropriate potential matches. The housing counselor helps create a living agreement for both parties and helps HomeProviders access lease templates.

Most of the HomeProviders rent a private bedroom and bathroom, and some also include another room such as a sitting room or living room space. Often the empty nesters rent a furnished room, such as a former guest room, which is helpful for many HomeSeekers who don’t have a lot of furniture. Most of the situations include sharing a kitchen. The average monthly rent is about $600, according to Debbie Mayer, coordinator for the HomeShare program, when I interviewed her at the end of 2018. Some monthly rents are as low as $300 and some as high as $750, and some include discounts for housemates who agree to completing regular tasks and chores such as walking dogs or preparing meals. There is no cost except a $25 fee to cover the costs of running background checks, and a sliding scale is available for those in need.

Even homeowners in the south end of Larimer County near Lyons can participate in the program if they are age 55 and older and have a space they want to rent out in their homes. For more information, contact www.n2n.org/rental-options/homeshare. These HomeProviders in Larimer County would be matched with HomeSeekers who live, work, or go to school in Larimer County. The Lyons Housing and Human Services Commission is interested in whether a Boulder County non-profit might be able to do something similar for people in Boulder County.

Silvernest online matching service

Four years ago in the Denver area, Wendi Burkhardt and Chuck McKenney started Silvernest, an online service that helps homeowners 50 and older find renters for spaces in their homes. When I talked with Burkhardt last year, Silvernest had 40,000 users in all 50 states, and about 8,000 users across Colorado. At that time, she said a majority of users were in Denver and Boulder, but the Longmont area was a very strong market.

Burkhardt pointed to data that showed that there are about 50 million people over age 50 across the county who have less than $50,000 savings in the bank. And at the same time, the costs of retirement are increasing as people live longer. Instead of embarrassment or the fear of asking for help, she said that homesharing can encourage people to help others, while it helps their retirement income at the same time.

According to silvernest.com, homeowners pay a subscription of $24.99 a month, which provides background checks, legal consultation, customized homesharing agreements (including copies that both the homeowner and renter can access online), automatic rent payments, access to homeshare coaches, and relisting for new matches in the future. Renters have no fees to sign up, and only pay $29.99 for an optional background check, which is good for 90 days.

Homesharing in Lyons, with support from programs like Neighbor to Neighbor or Silvernest, could be an option to address both housing and aging challenges.

In addition to the tight housing market across Colorado, Lyons is still dealing with the loss of about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. More than four years later, four Habitat for Humanity homes were completed at 2nd and Park Streets, and a final duplex building with two more homes is still underway. Those six homes are a great help to Lyons, but much more is needed, including affordable rentals. Earlier this year, the State Housing Board approved Summit Housing Group’s application for $4 million in federal disaster funds for a proposal to build 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. All 40 proposed homes would be rentals affordable to households with incomes at 60 percent or less of the area median income.

 

Amy Reinholds served on the Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force from December 2013 through its end in February 2015. She is currently a member of the Lyons Housing and Human Services Commission. She has lived in Lyons since 2003 and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995. She writes a monthly commentary (opinion column) in the Redstone Review about affordable housing after the 2013 flood disaster in Lyons. For a history, see previous columns on her blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com.

20131026_121414

Advertisements

It takes years to rebuild lost housing stock in Lyons

Tags

, ,

It takes years to rebuild lost housing stock in Lyons

COMMENTARY: Affordable Housing in Lyons

Published in the Sept. 18, 2019, edition of the Redstone Review.

 

By Amy Reinholds
Redstone Review

LYONS – Six years ago this month, raging flood waters from the North and South St. Vrain destroyed nearly 100 homes in Lyons in the span of a day. But as we have seen, it takes years to rebuild what was lost.

It took more than four years since the first spark of an idea in 2015 until the first four of the six Habitat for Humanity homes at 2nd and Park Street were completed and four new homeowners purchased them and moved in. On the sixth anniversary of the flood, one duplex building out of the three is still under construction. And these completed Habitat for Humanity homes came after an original proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes combined) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498.

So I’m not surprised that a proposal from Summit Housing Group to build 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings (all affordable rentals) that began to take shape in early 2018 is not farther along.

Summit Housing Group, based in Missoula, Mt., is under contract with landowner Keith Bell to purchase land in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision, intending to build 11 single-family homes on already platted lots and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 4 acres). All of those 40 rental homes must be affordable for households at 60 percent of the area median or less, required by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding that Summit plans to use.

Summit has approval for both federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds and tax-credit and bond funding for the proposal, approved by Colorado agencies earlier this spring and summer. However, at an Aug. 26 meeting of the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC), Town Planner Paul Glasgow said the Summit is taking longer on the development plan for the 29 homes in multifamily buildings. He told the commission that the development plan probably won’t come in until the end of September. [Update Oct 7, 2019: Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen reported to the Trustees that the Town Planner received more information from Summit about the schedule. Summit representatives told the Town Planner that they will be closing on the purchase by the end of October and allowing for 90 days of engagement with the public and town processes such as the  development plan with PCDC for the multifamily homes. Summit plans construction to begin in February 2020 and take about 12-14 months to complete, with the single family homes completed much sooner. ]

The development process for the 11 single-family homes that Summit proposes is like all others already platted in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision and elsewhere in Lyons, requiring a permitting and development process with the Town of Lyons. However, the development plan for the 29 apartments in multifamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A is a longer process. The development plan will go through the site development review process with the PCDC, including public input at official “public hearing” meetings. As part of earlier engagements with Lyons residents, representatives from Summit held public meetings in the Lyons Valley Park neighborhood (at Lyons Middle/Senior High School) in May and September 2018, where they answered questions and collected input from neighbors and other surrounding residents of Lyons. Based on input at the first of those meetings, Summit reduced the number of multifamily homes in the proposal.

Land in Lyons Valley Park Subdivision

Summit Housing Group is under contract with landowner Keith Bell to purchase land in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision, intending to build 11 single-family homes on already platted lots and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 3.82 acres). All of those proposed 40 rental homes must be affordable for households at 60 percent of the area median or less, required by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding that Summit plans to use.

Glasgow told the PCDC at last month’s meeting that Summit is taking longer than expected going through a fiscal impact analysis, which would probably take a month to complete. He said the analysis, part of the development plan to be submitted to the town, includes aspects such as cost of development, gains to the town, property millage, and sales tax income. At the Sept. 16 Board of Trustees meeting, Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen said that Summit representatives “decided to extend their closing date with Mr. Bell to the end of October.”

In February of this year, the State Housing Board approved Summit’s application for $4 million of federal CDBG-DR funds to build those 11 single-family and 29 multifamily rental homes in Lyons. The application was approved at a maximum of $100,000 per home, $4 million total for the 40 total residences.

Then on May 21, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) approved tax credits and bonds for Summit’s proposal. Simonsen has reported to the Board of Trustees that the CHFA approval is a preliminary award that allows the development project to sell the tax credits and bonds to the public. The federal LIHTC program gives investors a reduction in their federal tax liability based on the amount they invest in financing to develop affordable rental housing. The investors’ equity contribution subsidizes the development, allowing housing units to rent at below-market rates.

Summit specializes in developing and managing low-income tax credit and mixed-use developments in six states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. The property management site for Summit buildings, www.leasehighland.com, shows what the applications are like for other rentals built by Summit, including homes in Longmont. The area median income (AMI) changes every year, and varies depending on the number of people in a household, but you can download the 2018 Colorado County Income and Rent Tables at leaflyons.org/resources.html. Examples of rent estimates that Summit representatives have given at past meetings for two-bedroom apartments are $906 a month for a 40 percent AMI household, and $1,200 a month for a 60 percent AMI household, varying depending on family size.

 

Amy Reinholds served on the Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force from December 2013 through its end in February 2015. She is currently a member of the Lyons Housing and Human Services Commission. She has lived in Lyons since 2003 and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995. She writes a monthly commentary (opinion column) in the Redstone Review about affordable housing after the 2013 flood disaster in Lyons. For a history, previous columns are available on her blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com.

NIBMYs, YIMBYs, and SHIMBYs

Tags

,

Published in the July 11, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder. A similar column ran in the Aug. 14, 2019, edition of the Redstone Review.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

NIBMYs, YIMBYs, and SHIMBYs: Does affordable housing – or opposition to it – fit into easy categories?

by Amy Reinholds

The term “Not In My Back Yard,” or NIMBY, is thrown around in discussions about affordable housing, whether in Lyons, as our town has been trying to replace housing stock lost in the 2013 flood, or in large cities where real estate and rental prices are soaring.

NIMBY is understood as a dirty word that refers to citizens, usually with political influence or power, who don’t want something they deem as undesirable in their backyards. I think it also implies a hypocrisy that they think it’s OK in someone else’s backyard. What they don’t want in their neighborhoods varies. It could be government-subsidized affordable housing for people with low incomes, or extraction industry facilities owned by large, private corporations.

Organizations calling themselves YIMBY, or “Yes In My Back Yard,” have sprung up in recent years in the name of affordable housing. I started following some of these groups, liking the positive word “Yes” in the name. However, many of the policies and goals focus on increasing density as a solution across neighborhoods in cities, without necessarily requiring limitations for permanent affordability.

YIMBY groups oppose exclusionary zoning, municipal zoning ordinances that exclude certain types of land uses from a county, town, or city. Reading through en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exclusionary_zoning, I agree that our country has some ugly history of how zoning ordinances were used to keep immigrants and people of color out of white, wealthy, and powerful communities. But I don’t think doing away with all residential zoning (or all single-family home zoning) today is the answer for affordable housing and a caring society.

It’s paradoxical to me that many young renters in politically liberal cities, who wouldn’t align with Republicans on other issues, are buying into a trickle-down economic approach to so-called affordable housing. They think that if municipalities remove zoning restrictions and help market-rate developers build more high-density buildings in residential neighborhoods, it will automatically provide more low-cost rentals. Simple supply and demand, right?

But unless limitations are added to these new housing developments, allowing more density or incentives to for-profit developers would only result in lower costs for the first tenant or purchaser, not to the ones that follow. These market-rate actions might help the developers save money, but they won’t help achieve long-lasting affordable housing as the real-estate market continues to rise. We have the same issue with the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance in Lyons. Homeowners who can build apartments in their garage or a separate building (with a generous discount in utility connection costs) aren’t limited in how much they can charge for rent. As rental rates go up, so will the rents for these apartments.

That’s why I want to introduce a new acronym: SHIMBY, or “Subsidized Housing In My Back Yard.” Those of us who live near Bloomfield Place by the Stone Cup cafe, Walter Self Senior Housing by the post office, or Mountain Gate on 2nd Ave, already have tax-payer-subsidized affordable housing in our backyards. All are operated by the Boulder County Housing Authority.

Government or tax-payer-subsidized affordable housing, sometimes referred to as “permanent affordable housing” comes with requirements such as renting to households with specific low monthly incomes, or establishing deed restrictions for future sales prices. For example, any developer that uses the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits program as part of funding new residential buildings must rent to households with incomes of 60 percent of the area median income or less.

As I researched the YIMBY movement and some of its challenges, I noticed that others are taking a similar approach to my SHIMBY suggestion. The term some groups in large cities use is PHIMBY or “Public Housing in My Back Yard.” According to reporting from radio station KQED, this idea focuses on investing in public and municipal-run housing programs. The article at www.kqed.org/news/11731580/forget-yimby-vs-nimby-could-phimbys-solve-the-housing-crisis also brings up concerns that a market-rate YIMBY approach could also speed up gentrification in some neighborhoods and push out long-time, low-income residents.

Sorting through all those acronyms, I choose SHIMBY as a direction to pursue in our quest for affordable housing here in Lyons.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process.

The only post-flood, deed-restricted, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. The first duplex was completed in April 2019, and more volunteer help is needed to finish the other buldings. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all volunteer days with openings and sign up for one or more of the specific days they are available. Help is most needed on weekdays. For any questions, contact Rebecca Shannon, Community Engagement Manager, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, at 303-682-2485.

IMG_6536

U.S. Rep Joe Neguse’s thoughts on affordable housing

Tags

,

Published in the August 15, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder (the last edition of the Lyons Recorder).


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

U.S. Rep Joe Neguse’s thoughts on affordable housing

by Amy Reinholds

According to Rep. Joe Neguse, who held a town hall meeting in Lyons on Aug. 12, constituents all across his U.S. Congressional District 2 bring up concerns about being able to afford to live in their communities.

“Affordable housing is a huge concern,” Neguse said at a table in the back event space at the Stone Cup Cafe. “It comes up at almost every town hall.”

Meeting about 20-30 area residents and business owners, Neguse also heard questions and concerns about immigration policy – including how it affects local stone quarries – gun control, and corruption and accountability in Washington, D.C.

Based on input from Boulder and Larimer County housing authorities, Neguse said he is working on a bill to extend the minimum required number of years that rental homes funded by the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program must remain affordable to low-income households before the property owners are allowed to convert them to market rate rentals. The current proposal is to bump it up to 30 years.

He said he and his staff look for “any levers to pull at the federal level” to support affordable housing options. Some of the work, he said, is writing letters for grant purposes to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for grant opportunities, for communities including Gilpin County and Estes Park.

Neguse gave an example an interesting affordable housing partnership in Summit County that involved some land trades with the Town of Frisco, Summit County, and the U.S. Forest Service, in order to find much needed land to build affordable housing for the local workforce.

He also said he has been talking to the mayor of the Town of Lyons about affordable housing. In future columns, I will follow up on some of Neguse’s affordable housing actions, providing more details.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process.

The only post-flood, deed-restricted, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. The first two duplexes are now complete, and more volunteer help is needed to finish the final building. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all days with openings and sign up for one or more days. Help is most needed on weekdays. For any questions, or if you have a local group that wants to volunteer together, contact Rebecca Shannon at 303-682-2485. Shannon said Habitat can accommodate groups of up to 25 people with advance warning. She recommends scheduling groups for the month of September now.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

IMG_3545

A success story from Buena Vista

Tags

,

Published in the August 8, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

A success story from Buena Vista

by Amy Reinholds

The Colorado Municipal League (CML) annual conference earlier in the summer was attended by representatives from the Town of Lyons, including staff and elected officials. One of the affordable housing topics that was listed on the agenda gave insight to how 48 affordable rental homes were built in the Town of Buena Vista, a town of about 2,800.

Wondering how this project came about in a town more remote than Lyons, with about 800 more residents, I reached out to Mark Doering, Buena Vista principal planner. He told me that the Collegiate Commons project added 48 new affordable rental housing homes in two buildings, each three stories. The tenants earn 30-60 percent of the area median income. He said about 100 people live there today, about 40 of them kids.

It was a long road. The timeline from application to Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) started in April 2016, and the final tenants moved in by April 2019. But the idea started much earlier, with some disappointments. Doering said that the town had previously applied for LIHTC funding in 2015, but had feedback that the site wouldn’t work. “So we had to put together a more complicated proposal for the land,” he said.

For everything to align, the project included a land swap of park land with the local school district, a new a baseball field for the school that was funded with help from grants, a narrow approval of that land swap from voters in a 2017 municipal election with low voter turn-out, and multiple votes from school district and town elected officials. Buena Vista doesn’t have its own housing authority but partnered with an affordable housing developer, Urban, Inc.The town still owns the land with a 75-year lease, Doering said, and the developer owns the improvements on the land.

The Collegiate Commons project won the competative, so-called “9 percent” LIHTC in September 2016. There were 43 applications total, and the Buena Vista project was one of about 11 that were awarded the funding.

Just this year the town finished the process of LIHTC loans and financing steps.

In sharing information with other communities, Doering highlights what went well and allowed this project to succeed: political will, the various partnerships, and the adaptability of the project.

The lessons learned from this project that he compiled for the presentation at the CML conference included the importance of local involvement, transparency, and “don’t minimize the impacts to your partners.” Other important lessons included having multiple back-up plans “(B, C, and D)”. Warnings to keep in mind are “Not anyone can do LIHTC” and that the tax credit-required rental process takes time for vetting renters’ applications.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process.

The only post-flood, deed-restricted, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. Two duplexes are now completed and, and more volunteer help is needed to finish the third building. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all volunteer days with openings and sign up for one or more of the specific days they are available. Help is most needed on weekdays. For any questions, contact Rebecca Shannon, Community Engagement Manager, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, at 303-682-2485.

There are 26 existing permanently affordable rental homes in the Town of Lyons (already in town before the September 2013 flood): eight apartments at Bloomfield Place near the Stone Cup cafe, 12 apartments at Walter Self Senior Housing near the post office, and six apartments at Mountain Gate on 2nd Ave, all operated by the Boulder County Housing Authority.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

20131026_121433

Habitat for Humanity celebrates second duplex building dedication; more volunteers needed for the third

Tags

, ,

Published in the August 1, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Habitat for Humanity celebrates second duplex building dedication; more volunteers needed for the third

by Amy Reinholds

Habitat for Humanity scheduled a celebration and home dedication at the end of July for the completion of the second duplex building at 2nd and Park Streets. The first duplex at 112 Park Street was completed in April. These homes are the first new permanently affordable housing constructed after more than five years of determination from the community and Habitat for Humanity after the 2013 flood disaster in Lyons.

Since January 2018, volunteers – both from Lyons and communities across the region – have been working weekends and weekdays on constructing three duplex buildings at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street. Applicants were selected to purchase each of the six homes by April 2018, and the process to make Habitat for Humanity homes a reality in Lyons started at least three years before that.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 flood-destroyed homes since the September 2013 flood (homes not rebuilt either because of government buy-out programs that preserve the land as open space or because of the rezoning of one of the former mobile home parks to commercial use as an event and lodging venue). In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rental homes and some Habitat for Humanity affordable for-sale homes (a combined total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. But Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley did not give up on the Town of Lyons, continuing the discussion about possible available land in Lyons, and eventually purchasing the land at 2nd and Park from Craig Ferguson and his Planet Bluegrass partners in the fall of 2016.

The third and final duplex (the building in the middle) is still in progress. The roof was just finished, and the next big tasks include exterior work and also insulation and drywall interior work.  More volunteer help is greatly needed to complete it so the selected applicants can close on purchasing their homes and move in.

IMG_2435

The dedication ceremony for the second Habitat for Humanity duplex at 2nd and Park Streets in Lyons was July 31, 2019.

In the summer of 2018, the Lyons Lions Club and its youth chapter, “the Lyons Leos,” joined together for an Adopt-a-Day sponsorship at the Lyons construction site. There is a need for more big-hearted businesses or organizations to do the same thing this summer and fall. The Adopt-a-Day sponsorship is an opportunity for groups or businesses to both volunteer on the construction site and raise funds. It costs Habitat approximately $2,500 a day to build (costs of materials, permits, and site supervision for example). The combination of volunteer service and a financial contribution of $2,500 doubles the impact of the generous groups on Habitat’s mission.

To volunteer, no specific experience is needed, and training is on the job for each the 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. volunteer shift. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can sign up for any of the volunteer shifts when they are available.  For any questions, or if you have a local group that wants to volunteer together, contact Rebecca Shannon at 303-682-2485. Shannon said Habitat can accommodate groups of up to 25 people with advance warning. She recommends scheduling groups for the month of September now.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit that acts as a builder and a lender of no-interest loans for homeowners. Mortgages are about $150,000 (depending on some custom options). Monthly mortgage payments including taxes and insurance will range from about $650 to $850 for the homeowners in Lyons, depending on income and household size. Applicants to purchase all six of the Lyons homes were selected by April 2018, and several friends and family members helped donate volunteer hours over the past year or more to count toward each household’s “sweat equity.” All Habitat for Humanity homeowners complete about 250 volunteer hours of per adult in each household, which includes attending financial and home-ownership classes, as well as working on construction of their own and their neighbors’ homes, or working at the Habitat ReStore in Longmont.

The preference policy gave first preference for applicants displaced as a result of the flood disaster of 2013, who maintained their primary residence in the Lyons area (80540 zip code) at the time of the flood. For income level requirements in Lyons, preference is for applicants at 60% of area median income or below. The permanently affordable restriction means that homeowners who sell their homes in the future must sell to qualified buyers who are in that same income range.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com. 

Housing + transportation should not exceed 45% of monthly income

Tags

,

Published in the July 25, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Housing + transportation should not exceed 45% of monthly income

by Amy Reinholds

My column usually focuses solely on affordable housing, but this week I want to share a connection with affordability of where people live and their transportation costs.

The Boulder County transportation department includes a “Mobility for All” program. At a recent meeting, I picked up a sticker that has a picture of a house, a plus sign, and a picture of a bus and the words “should not exceed 45 percent of monthly income.” Within the affordable housing discussion, people’s housing costs are said to be “affordable” if they are 30 percent or less of their monthly income. This additional way of looking at overall affordability in a region like Boulder County means that both these kinds of expenses – housing and transportation – should only be 15 percent more of someone’s monthly costs – a total of 45 percent.

You can learn more about Boulder County Mobility for All at www.bouldercounty.org/transportation/multimodal/mobilityforall, which includes research and several programs, addressing a wide range of issues including the need for transportation for people who can’t afford cars or who don’t drive because of disabilities or age. One exciting announcement is that representatives from Lyons are participating in a working group that is shaping a new volunteer driver program for mountain communities in Boulder County.

For several years, the Town of Lyons volunteer advisory board that I serve on, the Lyons Housing and Human Services Commission, has been looking for opportunities to improve transportation options for people who live in the 80540 area. It can be very discouraging, with limited RTD bus service and not many other user-friendly transportation options for the aging population.

That’s why our commission was glad to hear that Boulder County Mobility for All knew that other mountain towns had similar issues – and they got a grant to do something about it. The grant covers creating a business plan for a technology-based volunteer driver program for mountain communities and curriculum development to help older adults and people with disabilities overcome technology barriers (for example, using computers and smart phones) to access transportation services like including ride sharing apps.

The Mobility for All team is holding monthly focus group meetings throughout the rest of 2019 to develop a volunteer driver program in the mountain communities of Allenspark, Gold Hill, Jamestown, Lyons, Nederland, and Ward. Lyons is sending representatives from our community who would use a volunteer driver program to get rides, as well as people who work or volunteer with the Town of Lyons or human services agencies like the Lyons Emergency & Assistance Fund (LEAF). The monthly meetings rotate among the participating mountain communities. Everyone in Lyons community is welcome to attend the meeting when it comes to Lyons, probably in November of this year. We will spread the word when the meeting is scheduled.

If you want to learn more about how you can get involved, reach out to me, the acting chair of the Lyons Housing & Human Services Commission, or to any of the other volunteer commissioners, listed at www.townoflyons.com/197/Housing-Human-Services-Commission. When you go to that page, you will also see that we have one open seat for a volunteer commissioner. We would love to have you if you are called to that avenue of participating in our community. Our meetings are the second Tuesday of every month, from 3:30-5pm at Lyons Town Hall.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process.

The only post-flood, deed-restricted, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. The first duplex was completed in April 2019, and more volunteer help is needed to finish the other buldings. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all volunteer days with openings and sign up for one or more of the specific days they are available. Help is most needed on weekdays. For any questions, contact Rebecca Shannon, Community Engagement Manager, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, at 303-682-2485.

There are 26 existing permanently affordable rental homes in the Town of Lyons (already in town before the September 2013 flood): eight apartments at Bloomfield Place near the Stone Cup cafe, 12 apartments at Walter Self Senior Housing near the post office, and six apartments at Mountain Gate on 2nd Ave, all operated by the Boulder County Housing Authority.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

20131026_121405

Minor amendments to Habitat for Humanity PUD plan pass the Lyons Planning Commission

Tags

, ,

Published in the July 18, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Amended Habitat for Humanity PUD plan passes Planning Commission

by Amy Reinholds

The Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) passed a resolution on July 11, recommending that the town’s Board of Trustees approve an amended PUD Development Plan for 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is completing three duplex buildings. The amendments were minor: the locations of the porches for the six homes and the location of the 4th bedrooms in the two larger homes in the middle duplex changed slightly.

There was no public comment and not much discussion from the PCDC commissioners other than to say that they supported these permanently affordable homes in Lyons. They also recommended that adopting language in the PUD that would allow town administrative approval for any other small future changes if needed. That way Habitat for Humanity staff won’t have to come back for a formal vote again before both the PCDC and the Trustees for any more minor modifications. The first duplex at 112 Park Street was completed in April, and one of the homes in the western-most duplex was completed at the end of last month. These homes are the first new permanently affordable housing constructed after more than five years of determination from the community and Habitat for Humanity after the 2013 flood disaster in Lyons.

The other three homes are finishing up this summer. More volunteer help – especially on weekdays – is still needed to complete the homes so the selected applicants can close on purchasing their homes and move in. To volunteer, no specific experience is needed, and training is on the job for each the 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. volunteer shift. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can sign up for any of the volunteer shifts when they are available. For any questions, contact Rebecca Shannon at 303-682-2485.

These homes are the first new permanently affordable housing constructed after more than five years of determination from the community and Habitat for Humanity after the 2013 flood disaster in Lyons.

At the July 11 PCDC meeting, Stephen Scott, construction director of Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, explained that the amended plan made the 4th bedrooms in the middle, larger, duplex accessible. Preparing for future homeowners with disabilities or to age in place meant moving those bedrooms to the first floor, and building accessible ramps in the part of the property in the floodplain required longer ramps. He also said that modifications in the porch locations for all six homes both met firewall requirements to separate by at least 10 feet and even improved the community aspect of the buildings.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit that acts as a builder and a lender of no-interest loans for homeowners. Mortgages are about $150,000 (depending on some custom options). Monthly mortgage payments including taxes and insurance will range from about $650 to $850 for all the homeowners in Lyons, depending on income and household size. Applicants to purchase all six of the Lyons homes were selected by April 2018, and several friends and family members helped donate volunteer hours over the past year to count toward each household’s “sweat equity.” All Habitat for Humanity homeowners complete about 250 volunteer hours of per adult in each household, which includes attending financial and home-ownership classes, as well as working on construction of their own and their neighbors’ homes, or working at the Habitat ReStore in Longmont.

The preference policy gave first preference for applicants displaced as a result of the flood disaster of 2013, who maintained their primary residence in the Lyons area (80540 zip code) at the time of the flood. For income level requirements in Lyons, preference is for applicants at 60% of area median income or below. The permanently affordable restriction means that homeowners who sell their homes in the future must sell to qualified buyers who are in that same income range.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 flood-destroyed homes since the September 2013 flood (homes not rebuilt either because of government buy-out programs that preserve the land as open space or because of the rezoning of one of the former mobile home parks to commercial use as an event and lodging venue). In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rental homes and some Habitat for Humanity affordable for-sale homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. But Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley did not give up on the Town of Lyons, continuing the discussion with possible available land in Lyons, and eventually purchasing the land at 2nd and Park from Craig Ferguson and his Planet Bluegrass partners in the fall of 2016.

This permanently affordable home-ownership model for six homes is a success for Lyons. But permanently affordable rentals are also needed to make up for homes that were lost in the flood. A few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued after the 2015 proposal failed, but nothing got very far in the process. A total of $4 million in federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons. In February of this year, the State Housing Board approved an application from Summit Housing Group to use the $4 million for a proposal to build 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Because federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits are also planned for funding those total 40 proposed homes, all would be required to be rented to households that earn 60 percent or less of the area median income.

If these rental homes come to fruition, Lyons will finally have a total of 46 new affordable homes post-flood. The town would be about half way to adding back homes that were not rebuilt after the 2013 flood.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

habitat-townhomes3-march-2019

An update on licensed short-term vacation rentals in Lyons

Tags

, ,

Published in the July 4, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

An update on licensed short-term vacation rentals

by Amy Reinholds

On the July 4 holiday week, many people are thinking about traveling and tourism. This week’s deadline was before the July 1 Board of Trustees meeting, but agenda materials included information on short-term vacation rentals in the Town of Lyons.

According to the written Administrative Report document in the July 1 Board of Trustees meeting agenda, there are 17 residential properties in town limits in 2019 that have Town of Lyons Short-term Rental Licenses already issued or currently processing.

There is a map on the Town of Lyons website that shows the location of all these licensed properties: townoflyonsgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=47c06c204fa541e7b2a4af5e258fefc5.

The report document also states that there are three non-compliant short-term vacation rentals in residential zones, one with a denied application, one that is a new listing on a commercial lodging website, and one that is listed as having “received a second administrative citation ($500).”

According to that same report, a status of the Town of Lyons lodging occupation fees ($2 per night) shows that five forms were not received by a March 20 deadline for the previous month’s fee. However, it states that nine forms were received before April 20.

Owning a home on a residential lot in the Town of Lyons, whether purchased recently, years or decades ago, or inherited from a family member, does not come with the automatic allowance to run a lodging business in that home and make money by renting it out by the night to tourists.

Until a Short-term Rental ordinance was added to the Town of Lyons municipal code at the start of 2018, the only way for owners of residential-zoned properties (R-1 and R-2) in town to legally rent space in their homes for short-term, nightly or weekly periods of time (including on websites like AirBnb and VRBO) was to apply for a conditional use review to run a Bed and Breakfast business. The Bed and Breakfast conditional use review process required several steps including public hearings before the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission and the Lyons Board of Trustees. No homeowners ever applied for the Bed and Breakfast conditional use reviews for R-1 and R-2 properties. (Bed and breakfast businesses with six or fewer units are allowed by right — without the conditional use reviews — on A-1, A-2, and Estate zoned land, if the homeowners have a business license and the rented units are in the main house.)

The new process makes it much easier for homeowners on R-1 and R-2 properties, who didn’t have a “use by right” before, to rent out rooms to vacationers in the homes where they live. Now all a residential homeowner must do is complete a Town of Lyons Short-term Rental Application, with a new application fee, and pay an annual license fee for a Town of Lyons Short-term Rental License. Residential homeowners can apply at www.townoflyons.com/ShortTermRentals.

The Lyons Short-term Rental Ordinance prohibits short-term rentals in campers or RVs, in other non-compliant structures like sheds, in carriage houses or ADUs that are covered by the www.townoflyons.com/566/Accessory-Dwelling-Units ordinance, and in homes that the property owners do not use as their principal residence. The homeowners who are renting out rooms to tourists must obtain a Colorado sales tax license and collect, report, and pay sales tax, or they can contract with a company like AirBnb to collect, report, and pay sales tax on their behalf. They also must pay a $2 per night Town of Lyons occupancy fee.

Compliance to the short-term vacation rental policy is important because it helps keep the stock of residential rentals for long-term renters who work in town and are looking for lower-cost options in smaller spaces, like roommate situations or accessory dwelling units. If space that could go to someone struggling to find a place to rent instead goes to tourists, our town stock of residential rentals goes down, increasing demand, and even increasing rental prices.

I see this concern about reduced long-term rentals as very real in small tourist towns in Colorado like Lyons, Salida, or Crested Butte, or in large cities like Denver, San Francisco, and Vancouver. Recently, a study from McGill University’s School of Urban Planning, found that Airbnb took 31,000 homes and apartments out of Canada’s long-term rental market in the past year. The study used a comprehensive dataset of all Airbnb activity in Canada from September 2016 to December 2018, compiled by the consulting firm AirDNA, and based on daily “scrapes” of Airbnb’s public website. You can read the entire study at http://upgo.lab.mcgill.ca/2019/06/20/short-term-rentals-in-canada-paper/.

“While current Airbnb activity is concentrated in major cities, active listings, total revenue, hosts with multiple listings, and frequently rented entire-home listings are all growing at substantially higher rates in small towns and rural areas,” according to the summary of the study.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process.

The only post-flood, deed-restricted, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. The first duplex was completed in April 2019, and more volunteer help is needed to finish the other buildings. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all volunteer days with openings and sign up for one or more of the specific days they are available. Help is most needed on weekdays. For any questions, contact Rebecca Shannon, Community Engagement Manager, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, at 303-682-2485.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

Town-of-Lyons-licensed-short-term-vacation-rentals-2019

The Lyons Comprehensive Plan

Tags

, ,

Published in the June 27, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

The Lyons Comprehensive Plan

by Amy Reinholds

The Lyons Comprehensive Plan (the overall planning document for the Town of Lyons), was last updated in 2010, although there have been two components added since the 2013 flood: The Lyons Recovery Action Plan in 2014 and the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan in 2016. In 2020, the town will update the Comprehensive Plan.

Town Planner Paul Glasgow’s agenda item at the June 24 meeting of Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC), described the Comprehensive Plan as “a vision for the future.”

“These documents were developed at different times and have some overlap,” he explained in the introduction to the agenda item. “As the demographics continued to change, it is once again time to update the comprehensive plan. The question is how to do this.”

A Comprehensive Plan is intended to capture broad community input about goals for land use, growth, housing, transportation, economic development, natural resources, and other issues, gathered over a year of community workshops, surveys, and public meetings. The 2010 Lyons Comprehensive Plan is available at www.townoflyons.com/DocumentCenter/View/155/2010-Comprehensive-Plan-PDF. The Lyons Recovery Action Plan component (added in 2014) is available at www.townoflyons.com/documentcenter/view/388, and the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan (added in 2016) is available at www.townoflyons.com/DocumentCenter/View/948/LPPA-Master-Plan-Final.

Before the Town of Lyons creates a request for proposals for a firm to run the public meetings and gather the data and input from community residents, the PCDC and Glasgow decided to spend the next several meetings reviewing the current documents. They will prepare an analysis of past implementation strategies and their current status.

At the June 24 meeting, the PCDC commissioners, Trustee Barney Dreistadt, and Glasgow also identified the following goals they wanted to focus on:

  • integration of transportation and land use, and how they work together.
  • safe pedestrian connectivity and from neighborhood to neighborhood.
  • multi-modal transportation, traffic safety, and parking during events.
  • economic stability of the town, to understand how to prepare if town revenue declines and taxes must be raised, or services cut.
  • ways to support local businesses, based on policies successful in other municipalities.
  • weed management and control of invasive weed species.
  • the future of the eastern corridor of Lyons.
  • affordable housing and preventing “losing the culture of the town,” as described by Commissioner David Hamrick.
  • limiting the ability of merging lots to build large, mansion homes.

Descriptions of intentions about affordable housing in the 2010 Comprehensive Plan were general, such as “Housing Strategy 1.2.2: Work with nonprofit partners such as Boulder County Housing and Human Services, Colorado Division of Housing, Habitat for Humanity, interested landowners and developers to explore opportunities to integrate affordable housing units into proposed development and redevelopment projects, including commercial and market-rate housing projects.”

The follow-on Lyons Recovery Action Plan was slightly more specific with descriptions of strategies to create a live-work development that can provide affordable housing for artists to live and incubate their trade and business; to encourage constructing homes that are affordable because of lot size, regulatory incentives, construction methods and materials, density, financial subsidies, and volunteer organizations; to encourage manufactured housing (including prefabricated, modular, and mobile homes); and to encourage alternative and sustainable housing developments with different ownership models.

An outgoing Lyons Board of Trustees board in April 2016 passed a resolution that set a goal of 10 percent of affordable housing (www.townoflyons.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/220?fileID=323 ). It listed policy measures that future boards can consider to increase affordable housing, including (1) zoning changes that allow for denser development where it otherwise would not be permitted; (2) annexation conditions that favor affordable housing; (3) conditions on further market-rate, single family home construction; (4) deed restrictions, covenant controls and land leases; and (5) use of Lyons Urban Renewal Authority funds for projects combining commercial and residential development and placing as instruments of affordable housing.

In all of these documents, market-rate actions are mixed in with tax-payer subsidized actions to create affordable housing. Our town leaders, elected and appointed officials, and members of our community need to be careful to not view all these ideas as the same. Government or tax-payer-subsidized affordable housing, sometimes referred to as “permanent affordable housing” comes with requirements such as renting to households with specific low monthly incomes, or establishing deed restrictions for future sales prices. Unless limitations are added, other options like allowing more density or incentives to developers would only result in lower costs for the first tenant or purchaser, not to the ones that follow. These market-rate actions might help the developers save money, but to achieve long-lasting affordable housing, we can’t just rely on a trickle-down approach.

The encouraging news is that all community members have the opportunity to participate in the Lyons Comprehensive Plan update in the coming year. Those of us who participated in 2010 can remember the experience of sitting around tables with some neighbors we had never met before, talking about what we liked about living here, and sharing what we really wanted the Town of Lyons to be like in the future.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process.

The only post-flood, deed-restricted, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street  Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. The first duplex was completed in April 2019, and more volunteer help is needed to finish the other buldings. At www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all volunteer days with openings and sign up for one or more of the specific days they are available. Help is most needed on weekdays. For any questions, contact Rebecca Shannon, Community Engagement Manager, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, at 303-682-2485.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

IMG_0958

 

illustration by Priscilla Cohan, 2015 public engagement meeting