Published in the April 30, 2015 edition of the Lyons Recorder

What’s the future for affordable housing in Lyons?

The town needs you to help create solutions

by Amy Reinholds

So far, there has been one meeting of the special housing committee after it was created by the Board of Trustees last week, attended by 11 people – 3 appointed members, 4 assigned liaisons, and 4 members of the public (3 of them who were considering applying to be members).

On April 20, the Board of Trustees appointed 4 members to the new committee: Justin Spencer (chair), Tom Delker, Craig Ferguson, and Nate Mohatt. About 3-5 more people need to be appointed, including at least one currently displaced resident. As of Monday this week, we had not heard that anyone had applied. The following liaisons have been assigned to the committee: Dawn Weller from the Board of Trustees, Cody Humphrey from Town of Lyons staff, Greg Oetting from Planning and Community Development Commission, Toby Russell from Sustainable Futures Commission (and possibly from Economic Development Commission), and me from Human Services and Aging Commission. The committee still needs liaisons from the Engineering and Utilities board and possibly other commissions.

The housing committee has settled on the following meeting times (all open to the public, you don’t have to be a member to attend):
2nd and 4th Mondays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Lyons Town Hall Annex (behind Barking Dog)
working sessions: every Thursday, 8:30-10 p.m. at Lyons Valley Village Community House

The committee also has a page on the town website where all information, including agendas and minutes will be posted: http://www.townoflyons.com/component/content/article/158-yoocarousel/556-special-housing-committee.

In addition, at every Board of Trustees meeting (first and third Mondays at Town Hall), after Sgt. Goldberger’s report, a representative of the housing committee will give a report of what has been accomplished since the last meeting.

So, there are several ways to hear what’s happening and to participate if you want to find housing opportunities for our former neighbors who can’t afford to live here since their homes were damaged in the flood.

For working sessions, every Thursday night, official members, liaisons from other groups, and members of the public divide into groups to collaborate.

Breakout groups will work on the following possible solutions:

  • accessory dwelling units
  • multifamily homes
  • infill, single family homes
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • mixed use
  • manufactured housing parks

Breakout groups will work on the the following cross-cutting issues:

  • financing, grants, tax credits
  • tap fees
  • lot-size restrictions, changing density
  • site issues, annexation, zoning
  • acquiring land
  • land trusts
  • targeting housing for flood-displaced residents/preference policy
  • options for maintaining affordability

Based on the comments on Facebook, there are dozens of people who say they want to help Craig and the new group of people who have been brave enough to step forward. I thought there would be a full house at the first meeting on April 23, but only one person who pledged support on Facebook actually came to the first meeting.

All the ideas that I’ve seen in comments on Facebook in the past week will be hammered out at working sessions that are open to the public. Craig has a lot of ideas that he’s been working on since I first started talking with him on March 25, the day after Bohn Park housing proposal failed, and now he has a contract to buy the Valley Bank commercial property, but that’s all that’s happened so far. If all the people I saw comment would come to a meeting and contribute, our community could have the people power needed to solve some affordable housing issues. As you can see from the list, there’s a wide range of issues to choose from.

So come out and join the conversation. And if you’re ready to step up like Craig, Nate, Tom, and Justin have, here’s the application at
http://www.townoflyons.com/images/stories/Advisory_Board_Application_2.pdf (email it to danthony@townoflyons.com).

Keep following this weekly column for updates about what has and has not been accomplished.

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 Human Services and Aging Commission. She has lived in Lyons for 11 years and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.