Foundation looks to steward affordable housing purchase
Grand Lake condos would provide homes for fire families, local workforce
Five families who lost their homes in the East Troublesome Fire still have no place to live, but a potential purchase in Grand Lake could fix that.
According to Grand Foundation Executive Director Megan Ledin, the high costs in Grand County have made it impossible for the a few fire victims to find somewhere to live despite their desires to stay here. She said the families have resorted to couch surfing, hotel hopping or, in one case, living in the basement of a church.
The Grand Foundation, which stewards the Grand County Wildfire Fund, has been looking for solutions to house these families in conjunction with the Grand County Housing Authority.
During discussions with Grand County commissioners on Dec. 7, Ledin said a property in Grand Lake had been identified. Originally, the thought was to purchase eight condos from the owner, but because of zoning issues it will have to be 11 units.
This would provide the five fire families an affordable place to live, plus another six workforce housing units.
“When it’s all said in done, we just want to see something moving,” Ledin said. “We have a catalyst with trying to help our fire families.”
Ledin didn’t disclose how much the property would cost as the Grand Foundation had not yet made an offer, but said it would be over $1 million. She added that this was still well below market rates, and that the condos are currently vacant.
At a workshop in October, commissioners indicated their openness to matching Grand Foundation’s $250,000 contribution for an affordable housing property purchase. The county has budgeted for such an expense in 2022.
Along with grants from various sources, Ledin said the purchase still falls about $400,000 short. However, the American Rescue Plan is offering a unique loan program for acquiring affordable housing at low interest rates to be paid back over four years.
Ledin said that those remaining funds could come from rent payments over the next few years. After extensive discussions with a local real estate agent, the foundation has been able to outline a few rent models, taking bills and maintenance into account, that would result in a net income of roughly $75,000 a year.
The lowest rent with these models for the one-bedroom condos would be $800 a month, with the tenant paying for electric and sewer as well. In addition to the un-housed fire families, the remaining units would go to local workforce meeting requirements defined by the Grand County Housing Authority.
Ledin emphasized that the Grand Foundation could facilitate the purchase, but that the property would be donated to the Grand County Housing Authority. Commissioners, who are also the county’s housing authority board, said they would be open to that option.
Additionally, the Grand Foundation requested that the housing authority apply for the loan to cover the remaining part of the purchase.
A number of questions have to be answered and further details must be worked out, but commissioners gave direction to the housing authority to apply for the American Rescue Act loan.
The Grand Foundation had not made an offer on the property as of Dec. 7, and Ledin said the closing on the property wouldn’t be until after the New Year.
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