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Dear Editor,

For decades there has been vocal support for housing our teachers, our medical staff, our servers, our builders, and other essential members of our workforce who deserve the opportunity to live near where they work and build equity for their families and future generations. Well-grounded evidence (two Housing Needs Assessments, multiple City surveys, and a consensus of elected officials whose constituents understand the need) tells us there’s a critical lack of affordable housing.

Salida’s Comprehensive Plan directs us to solutions. Our job is to execute what we’ve told ourselves we should do.

I understand that neighbors fear change. We are all anxious about what appears to threaten us. However, giving locals the opportunity to own homes that will be lived in year-round, by someone you know, those who keeps things running around here, is an antidote to fear.

These homes provide stability, security, and make for a stronger, diverse community. If we are truly all in this together, then let’s direct our collective action at things we can affect, and demonstrate our investment in our community.

The Chaffee Housing Trust works to provide affordable housing in Chaffee County

Those opposing affordable housing within the City have presented the case against it using misleading, over-inflated math and other factual errors that serve to scare and divide the community. City resources and efforts should be directed at supporting affordable housing for community members who serve us all.

The City’s Comprehensive Plan explicitly lays it out. Just read the Chaffee Housing Trust’s application to the City, page 10 of the March 16 City Council & Planning Commission Work Session packet, section #2 – Review Standards (https://cityofsalida.com/wp-content/uploads/3.16.20-Packet.pdf).

Community members are strongly encouraged to contact me, Executive Director of the Chaffee Housing Trust, to confirm any facts or figures about our organization, transactions, operations, and sales if you have questions about what you may have heard. To set the record straight, here are some facts you should know:

  • CHT sold six homes in Salida in 2019. Buyers paid $170,000. Letter to the Editor authors appear to have confused the market value sales prices with the actual price to CHT buyers. Grants, etc. fill the gap between those two numbers.
  • CHT sold three homes recently in Buena Vista, buyers paid between $172,000 and $178,500.
    These 900 sq. ft. homes, all identical, cost between $181-$198/sq. ft. Market rate homebuilding is well above $250/sq. ft.
  • The City of Salida has provided the CHT annual funding over four years, averaging $8,500/year in grant funds as a match for $25,000/year in State funds provided for operations. That’s less than four percent of the general operating costs of the organization, not including construction.
  • As a result, the CHT raised $230,000 in grants for home construction, over $397,500 in capital grants and salaries grants, and $500,000 in low-interest loans to support homebuyer mortgages and provide deposits on construction.
  • The CHT assumed 100 percent of the risk to build eight affordable homes in Salida including $1.2m in construction borrowing. The City was exposed to zero percent of the risk.
  • 100 percent of donations go directly to home construction: The Bricks & Mortar fund.
  • Homebuyer data is stored in secure, password-protected folders on password-protected computers. Donor data is voluntarily provided using trusted online platforms like Colorado Gives, and secure websites, with payments through Paypal.
  • The CHT has been thoroughly vetted (including records audits) by the Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs / Div. of Housing, The Colorado Health Foundation, The Chaffee Marijuana Excise Tax Advisory Board, The Climax Mine / Freeport McMoRan Foundation, and many others including local banks, and City and County grant review committees.

There are those who question the integrity of the Chaffee Housing Trust, attacking board members and the City of Salida for working with the CHT. They suggest the CHT “doesn’t adhere to consistent, objective, safe, and fair business practices” without investigating who we are and how we operate.

The CHT has consistently and efficiently dedicated its resources to providing roofs over the heads of families who make our local economy work. If any readers have questions and want the get their facts straight from the source, please contact me anytime: read@chaffeehousing.org, (719) 239-1199.

Together, we can tackle this housing challenge.

Read McCulloch

Executive Director, Chaffee Housing Trust

Salida