Our view: YVHA housing project shows promise | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: YVHA housing project shows promise


A proposal to build an affordable workforce rental housing development in west Steamboat is moving forward.


The project gives YVHA a chance to get back in the affordable housing business through a generous public-private partnership.

As the Yampa Valley Housing Authority moves forward with a proposed project to build a 48-unit apartment complex on a 10-acre tract of property it owns on Elk River Road, we are becoming increasingly optimistic about the promise the project holds to provide Steamboat Springs with a new supply of attainable workforce housing.

YVHA is partnering on the project with Overland Property Group, a private developer that has built similar affordable housing projects in Iowa, Texas and Kansas. Overland is looking to construct a mix of 48 two- and three-bedroom apartments with the larger units big enough for families to rent. And with the city planning to add a bus loop to serve that area in the future, the site also provides renters with convenient transit options.

Under the proposed arrangement, Overland would build and own the apartments and pay YVHA to manage the them under a long-term contract.

At the latest YVHA meeting March 3, details of the proposal were discussed, and it was revealed that Overland will absorb the $2 million debt YVHA owes on its west Steamboat property if the project moves forward.

When the first request for proposals to build an affordable housing complex on the Elk River Road parcel was issued, we editorialized in favor of the project but cautioned that the $2 million debt that VVHA held on the property could be a deal breaker. The fact that the developer is willing to assume the entire debt, which is more than the property is worth, is welcome, and somewhat surprising, news.

YVHA now has the opportunity to get out from under a sizable debt and get back into the business of providing attainable housing, which is its primary mission.

Looking ahead, we realize the project is far from a done deal. Its success hinges on YVHA’s ability to secure federal low-income housing tax credits from the Colorado Housing Finance Authority to help finance the project — a process that is highly competitive. The tax credits are the equity YVHA will bring to the development project.

In addition, the project will be entering the city approval process and must obtain all the necessary permits and approvals from the city of Steamboat Springs — more steps that could raise barriers.

We believe the Elk River Road project holds great promise, and we are cautiously optimistic that the project can be built. It’s important that the city realizes the value of this development project in light of the fact that affordable workforce housing is now at a premium.

Just as the city found a way to compromise in the case of the Alpiner being used for seasonal workforce housing, we’d like to see this project approached with the same eye toward creative solutions. It will be essential that the development is built to city codes but with a mind toward efficiency to make sure the units can be built well but affordably so the project is a viable investment for the developer.

The project allows YVHA to get back into the business of providing attainable housing while meeting an acute need for affordable rentals. The new complex would target households earning 40 to 60 percent of the median income here, and we have no doubt the apartments will fill up fast.

And as we’ve stated before, we’re also pleased YVHA is pursuing a private-public partnership to try to address Steamboat’s scarcity of affordable rental housing.

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