Published in the September 29, 2016, edition of the Lyons Recorder.
COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?
Habitat for Humanity updates
by Amy Reinholds
As we head into October, Lyons will likely see more progress toward affordable housing and post-flood replacement housing, with expected closings and continued rebuilding work in the next month.
Documentation for subdivision of land at 2nd and Park Streets is being reviewed this week and is expected to be recorded with Boulder County soon. Then the closing for Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley to purchase 6 residential lots could be completed by October.
In July of this year, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved final rezoning and subdivision steps to allow 6 residential lots at 2nd and Park to be sold to Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley. The 6 lots for 3 duplexes can be sold to Habitat for Humanity after the plat is recorded, and the former bank building will remain on a separate commercial lot. Habitat for Humanity will complete the required subdivision improvements for the residential lots, planning to begin these improvements after closing on purchasing the lots from landowners Downtown Lyons Development, LLC.
In June 2015, Craig Ferguson purchased the 0.76-acre parcel from Valley Bank, and the previous Board of Trustees voted unanimously to waive water and sewer connection fees that they have control over for the proposed Habitat for Humanity homes. The total of about $173,500 in savings will help Habitat for Humanity meet its permitting and fees budget, keeping mortgages down to about $150,000 for homeowners. Habitat for Humanity acts as a builder and a lender of no-interest loans for homeowners.
The 6 residential lots will be permanently affordable, based on a covenants for resale, administered by Habitat for Humanity. First preference is for applicants who were living in the 80540 zip code during the flood and were displaced. Second and third preferences are for applicants from surrounding areas who were displaced by the 2013 flood, and current local residents, students, and employees of 80540 who weren’t displaced. Habitat for Humanity hopes that all 6 homes will be filled with people in the primary preference category and knows of three interested applicants who have been living out of state since they were displaced by the flood.
Applicants who meet the preference requirements must also qualify for the Habitat for Humanity program. Households must demonstrate a need for housing (examples include paying more than a third of your family income on rent, not qualifying for a traditional loan, or living somewhere that is not able to be maintained for health and safety), a willingness to partner with the Habitat for Humanity program (including volunteering hours to build their home and other homes), and ability to pay the mortgage and provide a down-payment (some assistance is available). Habitat homeowners get no-interest mortgages but agree to put in up to 500 hours of “sweat equity,” depending on family size, on both their own homes and other homes in the community. If anyone is interested in applying for home ownership, call Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley 303-682-2485 and ask for Erin McDermott or Julie Gallegos.
Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is also leading volunteer crews this fall on a Habitat ReBuild project on Mark Bray’s home in the confluence neighborhood of Lyons. The foundation and home have been raised above the flood plain, and Habitat teams of volunteers are working on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays through October to reconstruct and finish the first floor of the home.
No experience or tools are necessary, and volunteers will be trained on construction tasks on site. Habitat asks people to register ahead of time so that they have enough materials and supervision so that everyone can be productive. The work day begins at 8:30 a.m., with about an hour for lunch, and an expected end time of 4:30 p.m. Everyone must be present for a mandatory safety orientation at the start of the day.
Sign up for a day on the online build schedule at www.stvrainhabitat.org/flood-repair-volunteer-opportunities. Anyone who would prefer to register by phone or email, or who has questions about this Habitat ReBuild project, can contact Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley at 303-682-2485 x 102 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The ReBuild program, Habitat’s critical home repair program, is designed to help homeowners affected by the September 2013 floods.
I’m grateful that here in Lyons, we have many opportunities to get off the couch, get away from our computers and the routine of our jobs, and help others. We can gain experience volunteering with Habitat for Humanity this fall, so we’ll all be ready to work on the new homes at 2nd and Park when volunteers are needed there.
Another closing that is expected in October is the post-disaster buyout with federal disaster recovery funds for the landlord of the former 1.26-acre Foothills Mobile Home Park at 104 5th Street. After the flood, the current owner, John Baranway, said he wanted to develop a new mobile home park, if he received the buyout for the Foothills mobile home park and was able to buy other property in the Lyons area.
For a history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns posted on my blog at https://lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. All town meetings of the elected Lyons Board of Trustees and appointed town boards and commissions are open to the public and posted on the town calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.
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 and served as a liaison to the Special Housing Committee from 2015-2016. She has lived in Lyons since 2003 and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.