In a press release on Thursday morning, June 27, the Chaffee County Office of Housing announced that it has been awarded an El Pomar Foundation grant of $40,000. The grant’s focus is the county’s new Rental Security Deposit Guarantee Program for Chaffee County residents. The program will launch immediately, beginning July 1.

“We are very grateful to El Pomar Foundation’s Central Peaks Regional Council for this opportunity and I feel certain that this program will help households in Chaffee County by easing the financial burden of getting into a rental home,” said Chaffee Housing Director Becky Gray. “Often households must pay first and last months rent in addition to an equivalent security deposit … a financial commitment that can deplete most working people’s savings, and this program can help ease that burden.”

Photo courtesy of the Chaffee County Housing Facebook group.

Gray submitted a grant application in Feb. 2019, based on her concept to create a Rental Security Deposit Guarantee Program for Chaffee County. The concept is simple: help those in need of rental housing to get into rental units by addressing some of the up-front costs required to rent. With the county guaranteeing the rental deposit guarantee to landlords and property managers, this allow the tenant to re -pay the deposit amount over the term of the lease.

“My focus is on the new relationship that is starting with El Pomar. I really want to highlight my appreciation that El Pomar has trusted us with their funding to do something creative with this grant,” said Gray. “This has never been done here before. The program is designed leverages the grant money 100 percent.  The tenants are paying it, but we are giving them the benefit of time.”

The El Pomar Foundation Central Peaks Regional Council Covers Chaffee, Custer, Park and Fremont counties. In 2018 the foundation was reorganized to include representatives from each county so that the challenges and needs that each face regarding work force housing were more deeply understood.

“Our town hall meeting clearly established priority needs regarding affordable housing,” said Chaffee County Region Council Member Charles Forster. “In the end, the council’s flexibility in awarding grants was of great benefit in funding the specific affordable housing needs of each county.”

While the county got official news about the grant in May. Gray says she has been at work during June developing the policies and procedures on which to operate the grant. The program will go live July 1.

“What I’m excited about is that this program is designed to reach up to 100 percent [of the county’s] AMI(Average median income) Once we get it operating, we can guarantee the rent security deposit,” said Gray. “People don’t seem to realize, especially those who haven’t had to rent in a long time, that in this county that is like $4,000 people have to come up with [to get into a rental unit].”

“That’s a lot of money that people, who could otherwise afford the monthly rent, don’t have,” said Gray. “This isn’t only a Chaffee County problem. There was a study done recently that revealed that some 40 percent of Americans can’t handle a $400 emergency.

Application and instructions for those interested in applying for the program will be located on the Chaffee County webpage under the Office of Housing; http://www.chaffeecounty.org/Housing.

For more information , contact Gray at 719—530-2590 or bgray@chaffeecounty.org. More Chaffee County housing info is available at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1488324561473470/