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Published in the January 26, 2017, edition of the Lyons Recorder.

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

Habitat initiates a community housing alliance

by Amy Reinholds

Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, which owns land at Park Street and 2nd Ave in Lyons and will be building 6 permanently affordable homes, is also reaching out to the Lyons community to build a partnership of community organizations, officials, churches, and volunteers who want to bring affordable housing to Lyons.

Rebecca Shannon, outreach and volunteer manager for Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, is is looking for interested participants in an alliance of organizations surrounding affordable housing in Lyons. Focus would of course include the 6 new Habitat homes on Park Street but would go beyond that, identifying other needs for the community, including various housing types, such as rentals.

At the Jan. 23 meeting of the Lyons Human Services and Aging Commission, the commissioners unanimously voted to participate with Habitat and the alliance, after hearing a short presentation from Shannon. In a related vote, the commission also voted unanimously to recommend that the Lyons Board of Trustees incorporate “Housing” into the name of the commission and specifically mention housing in the mission statement for the commission.

Shannon and Habitat for Humanity are seeking an alliance of existing government and community groups including Lyons Town government, the Lyons Community Foundation, Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund (LEAF), Lyons Chamber of Commerce and business representatives (including larger employers in town), Lyons Volunteers, local churches, the Human Services and Aging Commission volunteer commission, individuals, and interested volunteers from previous Lyons housing recovery task forces and committees. Shannon also said she will be reaching out to providers of affordable housing in surrounding towns and counties.

Goals of the alliance would be to bring affordable housing to the Lyons community, empowering low-income families who were flood-displaced, or who live, work or attend school in Lyons, with homeownership, to advocate for a variety of affordable housing options within the Lyons community, and to foster economic growth and diversity in the Lyons community.

Desired outcomes of the alliance include making safe, affordable, permanent homeownership attainable to low-income families who lost their housing in the Lyons flood, constructing the 6 Habitat for Humanity homes over the next three years, paving the way for future land acquisition and other affordable home construction in Lyons, strengthening the overall Lyons economy through increased property and sales tax revenue, and building a community that understands the need for and the value of affordable housing in Lyons.

For questions about the new alliance, contact Rebecca Shannon at rshannon@stvrainhabitat.org. I will spread the word about meetings as they are scheduled, probably starting in March. Look for more information as it becomes available in my columns in Lyons newspapers and on my blog at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com.

When the new Habitat for Humanity duplexes are constructed, Lyons will have 6 more homes toward those lost in the September 2013 flood. The Town of Lyons lost a total of about 70 flood-destroyed homes to both the federal buyout programs (including one buy out of a mobile home park expected to close soon) and to the changed use of a second mobile home park property to an event venue (rezoned for commercial use). In March 2015, a proposal for subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 units) on five to seven acres of Bohn Park was voted down 614 to 498 by Town of Lyons voters in a special election.

The town has a total of 26 permanently affordable rentals (already in Lyons before the September 2013 flood) according to the Boulder County Housing and Human Services department: 8 apartments at Bloomfield Place, 12 apartments at Walter Self Senior Housing, and 6 apartments at Mountain Gate.

For a history of post-flood efforts for affordable housing in Lyons, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers posted on my blog at 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 are intended to be posted on the town calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx. This column is a weekly commentary in the Lyons Recorder. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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