Published in the November 16, 2016, edition of the Redstone Review.
COMMENTARY: Affordable Housing
Opportunities for Habitat for Humanity, Eastern Corridor
By Amy Reinholds
Affordable Housing Columnist
LYONS – At press time, the purchase of 6 residential lots at 2nd and Park by Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley was expected to close soon. Plats for subdivision of the former Valley Bank land into 6 residential lots and one commercial lot were expected to be filed with Boulder County the week of Nov. 7, and after that step is completed, the land purchase can move forward. After Habitat for Humanity owns the land, preparation for constructing 6 townhomes can begin.
[Update Nov. 18: Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley closed Thursday, Nov. 17, on the purchase of land from Craig Ferguson and his LLC partners and now owns the 6 residential lots at 2nd and Park Streets in Lyons.]
Habitat for Humanity acts as a builder and a lender of no-interest loans for homeowners. Habitat homes are permanently affordable, and in Lyons would be based on a covenants for resale, administered by Habitat for Humanity. For the 6 homes in Lyons, 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 of the St. Vrain Valley 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 at 303-682-2485 and ask for Erin McDermott or Julie Gallegos.
Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley also has worked on rebuilding for homeowners in Lyons with flood damaged homes. In October and early November, Habitat led volunteer crews three days a week on Mark Bray’s home in the confluence neighborhood. The foundation and home have been raised above the flood plain, and volunteers reconstructed the first floor of the home. For more information, see www.stvrainhabitat.org/flood-repair-volunteer-opportunities or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are other opportunities to help Mark Bray, who is facing health issues and recovery after a hospital stay. Joycelyn Fankhouser and other Lyons community members have reached out to help to ease his transition from recovery and eventually back to his home in Lyons, where he hasn’t been able to live in the more than three years since the flood.
Debra Hill, a caseworker with Boulder County Housing and Human Services, said that cards and letters during the Thanksgiving holiday would be most helpful and encouraging in the immediate timeframe, and that Habitat for Humanity will be helping build a ramp for his home later when he is able to come home.
“I believe it would be of great comfort and encouragement to know his community is rooting for him to get better and return home after three and a half years of being displaced,” Hill said.
Finally, if you are interested in future affordable housing opportunities on the Lyons Eastern Corridor, or other areas, check out the draft of the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan. The Lyons Primary Planning Area is an area of Boulder County on the outskirts of Town of Lyons limits, where landowners in the area are allowed to petition to annex into the town, based on an agreement between the Town of Lyons and Boulder County originally, established in 2002 (before many of us even lived in Lyons).
Even if you couldn’t attend the open house or presentation in October, you can read the materials at www.townoflyons.com/441/Lyons-Primary-Planning-Area-Master-Plan, especially the October 20, 2016 LPPA Final Wrap-Up Meeting Presentation at www.townoflyons.com/DocumentCenter/View/834. If you really want to know what’s up with the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan, read all the presentation materials – don’t just look at the pictures.
The draft of the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan is slated to go to the Lyons Board of Trustees on Nov. 21. All Board of Trustees meetings start at 7 p.m. at Lyons Town Hall and include periods for public input. The Board of Trustees is also directing town staff to continue pursuing funding options to purchase the former Longmont water treatment land east of Hwy 36 on the north and south sides of Hwy 66.
Keep following my column for news about accomplishments to increase affordable housing stock in Lyons after the 2013 floods. For history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns posted on my blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. All town meetings of the elected Lyons Board of Trustees and appointed, volunteer town boards and commissions are open to the public and supposed to be posted on the town calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx. This column is a monthly commentary in the Redstone Review. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, 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 during its existence from April 2015-April 2016. She has lived in Lyons since 2003 and in the surrounding Lyons area since 1995.