Redden affordable housing project should be completed this fall

$1.3 million for eight new bedrooms

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

If all goes as expected, the Valley Housing Fund could complete the Paul Redden Workforce Housing Project by this fall and three new homes providing eight new deed restricted bedrooms could be online for “essential workers” in the Crested Butte M district on the north side of town at 114 Butte Avenue. It is the only new affordable housing planned to be completed  for the this year in Crested Butte..

According to new VHF board president Scott Desmarais, down payments on two three-bedroom and one two-bedroom manufactured homes were authorized by the VHF board last week and once in place they will be rented to local workers. “We are now going through the BOZAR (Board of Zoning and Architectural Review) process and preparing to line up the site prep,” he explained. “Town has been supportive and is open to lowering tap fees and permit costs once deed restriction details are finalized. Hopefully, they and others in the community will continue to be generous with funding and availability for required services given the importance of affordable housing for our community.”

The budget for the project is $1.3 million. VHF paid $525,000 for the Redden property two years ago. The homes are coming in at about $170,000 each and $300,000 is budgeted for preparing the site, transportation of the homes and removal of the exiting two trailers and a barn on the property.

The schedule calls for two of the new units to arrive in September and a third in early October. Desmarais said the goal is to get them all filled with local workers and their families by October or late fall.

The project also provides immediate opportunities for someone looking for affordable housing alternatives according to Desmarais. “One of the trailers could potentially still provide housing, and the barn could be a useful addition to someone’s property in the valley. We plan to sell both this trailer and the barn for a minimal amount with new owners bearing the cost of removing them from the property in late July or early August,” he noted. The other trailer will be disposed of in a responsible manner.

“We have done a lot of work talking to various organizations and individuals in need of affordable housing and decided it would be best right now to rent these new Redden Project homes to essential personnel (e.g., teachers, health care workers, managers and their families) and other members of our local working community,” Desmarais said. “We will continue to work with local institutions/organizations like the school district and Gunnison Valley Health, but for now, it makes sense to rent to individuals most in need of affordable housing opportunities with standard deed restrictions. Those requirements would likely include things like being essential personnel for the community and making at least 80% of income locally.

“We want to provide options for those who would not be able to afford to live in Crested Butte without these opportunities,” he continued. “Since VHF is a private non-profit foundation and not a government entity, we can be flexible in our approach to income levels. The details will be finalized in the coming months.”

The actual rent amounts have not yet been determined, but the expectation is that they will be in line with deed restricted rents being collected at other such projects in the valley.

Ultimately, VHF may decide to sell the homes to qualified residents with the standard deed restrictions over the next two to three years. That could help generate additional funding for new affordable housing projects. 

Desmarais said that the VHF board is bringing on new members from across the valley and has expanded its capacity by hiring Lauren Koelliker as its first full-time executive director. The bylaws of the organization have been amended so that various local government entities will not be required to assign representatives to the board. VHF’s new website — www.vallyhousingfund.org — is live and the non-profit is actively engaging members of the community to raise funds to cover the total cost of the Redden Project and to facilitate innovative ways to support new workforce housing projects.

Desmarais added that since its inception, the VHF has contributed to the completion of nine local, affordable housing projects, helping to deliver 143 affordable housing units to date through investments of nearly $2 million. “VHF has continued to make strategic investments in low-cost land over the years, including the Redden property and the Wilson property located just north of Gunnison which we are currently in the process of purchasing,” he said.

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