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Dear Editor,

Repeatedly, the citizens of Salida indicated in surveys that affordable housing is the #1 issue facing our community – not even close with any other issue raised in these surveys.

A second-floor manufactured housing module stands ready to be incorporated into the Chaffee Housing Trust affordable housing project Wednesday at the Two Rivers development. In the background, a crane prepares to lift a similar module into place (photo by Joe Stone).

Findings of Housing Needs Assessments (2016), conducted at the request of Chaffee County, Salida, Poncha Springs, and Buena Vista (BV), outline the monumental task in creating affordable housing. This assessment’s findings are: 2,426 dwellings are needed, between the 60 – 120 percent area median income (AMI) to meet the current need. 889 dwellings in this same AMI range are needed to meet the future growth needs.

Understanding the need and hearing its citizens’ housing concerns, Salida committed to assisting in the development of affordable housing. After considering all City-owned property, Salida determined that the property at 3rd and M Streets is the best location now for affordable housing construction. Part of this decision is based on the fact that this land is deemed not useable by the City of Salida for another purpose.

The Chaffee Housing Trust (CHT) has been determined by Salida as a good partner for the construction of affordable housing at 3rd and M. The CHT is a proven developer of affordable housing, having constructed the Old Stage Road Rowhouses (six units sold and two units rented to Salida citizens at under 65 percent AMI). This project was done in partnership with Natural Habitats in the Two Rivers development, as part of Salida’s inclusionary housing ordinance.

The CHT also partnered with Fading West, developer of The Farm community in Buena Vista, to purchase 7 dwellings, find qualified lower-income buyers, support these buyers in becoming qualified for financing, and assisting them in closing. Currently, 3 buyers have closed on their new homes in The Farm. Another will close in June 2020. Three other units will close to buyers between June and October 2020. The mean AMI for these homes is 70 percent.

In all of the above instances, the CHT obtained grants for down payment assistance, assuring that these homes were made available at below-market prices and affordable to lower income buyers. Grants acquired by CHT to provide down payment assistance to date have totaled $230,000. All of these homes are legally protected, permanently-affordable homes in perpetuity to future buyers in the same AMI as the original buyers.

Who are the buyers/renters of these CHT-assisted affordable homes?

In Salida:

  • A construction worker for a local builder
  • A 12-year middle school teacher with a family
  • An employee of Pure Greens
  • An emergency room hospital employee
  • A single-mom; employee of a local manufacturer with family
  • A local medical office administrator
  • A Columbine Manor employee
  • An essential grocery store worker

In BV:

  • A first-year elementary school teacher
  • A Colorado Kayak Supply retail employee (closing in June)
  • A BV lumber yard employee
  • A BV Town employee.
  • The affordable housing at 3rd & M is in keeping with Salida’s longtime tradition of diverse neighborhoods. I urge citizens to support this project.

Ken Matthews

Vice-President, Chaffee Housing Trust