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.
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.