RALF turns to area towns for self-help housing | SteamboatToday.com

RALF turns to area towns for self-help housing

Program could shut down if there's no participation

Nick Foster

Low- to moderate-income residents interested in building a home in Hayden or Oak Creek have the opportunity to do so with a program that can save them tens of thousands of dollars.

Through Hands-On Housing, qualified residents who are willing to help build their own home can own it without making a down payment and get an interest rate as low as 1 percent.

If the program flourishes, housing-supply purchases related to it could generate about $1 million in revenue for each community, RALF Executive Director Ellen Hoj said.

In its efforts to build a mandated 24 homes in 24 months, the Regional Affordable Living Foundation is extending its arms to Hayden and Oak Creek to find qualified homebuyers willing to participate in the self-help program.

Seven self-help houses are under construction in Steamboat Springs, so 17 more must be built. RALF had hoped to build the next 17 units in the Hilltop area, but the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission essentially denied the application, Hoj said. If Hands-On Housing does not work in Hayden or Oak Creek, the program will not meet its mandate and will be shut down, Hoj said.

The only other option would be calling landowners in West End Village to ask whether they would be willing to sell their lots for use in the program, Hoj said.

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While enough people in Hayden and Oak Creek have expressed interest, finding land on which to build is an issue in both towns.

Oak Creek Mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman said she liked the Hands-On Housing idea and hung fliers all over town trying to recruit people for the project.

“I think self-help housing would work here,” Rodeman said. “I would love to see any of the folks who don’t own their own homes here be able to do this and get the low interest rates, but it seems like where we are now in Oak Creek is that people don’t want to part with their land.”

Hayden has a similar problem, Hoj said.

Hayden Mayor Chuck Grobe said, “We have lots for sale; it’s whether the people want to sell them or not if this gets going.”

“I think (Hands-On Housing) is a great idea,” he added. “It sure helps somebody who’s got a lot of initiative and not a lot of money. I think it’s an innovative program. I guess it’s up to the landowners whether or not it works in Hayden.”

Land is one of four requirements to begin construction. The others are recruitment, financing and design, Hoj said.

RALF needs six to eight interested parties in a town for construction to begin there. Six people have expressed interest in Hayden, and eight have shown interest in Oak Creek, so for the moment, the recruitment requirement has been met, even though Hoj would like to see more interested parties in both communities in case some don’t qualify or change their minds.

RALF plans to use the same designs or designs similar to the Steamboat houses for projects in Hayden and Oak Creek, so the house design requirement has been met.

Financing is taken care of, thanks in large part to a $390,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and if needed, RALF can get additional financial assistance from a local bank or other federal affordable housing programs, Hoj said.

Land is needed. Hoj is negotiating with three landowners in Hayden for properties on the south side of U.S. Highway 40, several of which are in the Golden Meadows subdivision. She also is looking at several properties in and around downtown Oak Creek.

“This program is set up exactly for these types of towns,” Hoj told the Hayden Town Board on Feb. 19.

RALF lost eight months of work when the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission gave negative feedback on plans for a 17-unit self-help project in Steamboat. It must have 17 units built by October 2005 to continue.

— To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com