Yampa Valley Housing Authority projects make permanent housing possible for low-income residents
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — British actor Guy Pearce nailed it when he said, “The thrill of coming home has never changed.”
Home is the safe haven families return to and dream of for a better future.
With the news Sept. 20 that Yampa Valley Housing Authority had landed $13.5 million in tax credits to help build its second income-restricted apartment complex, more of those aspirations could be fulfilled.
The Reserves tenants talk about their previous housing
• “My family used to couch surf in the winters and sleep in my car in the summer.”
• “We had more stress, more rent, the kids had no place to play.”
• “I was living in a three-bedroom, one-bath with six people.”
• “I was living in an 8-by-11 garage room.”
• “We never had a secure home. We were moving every three months.”
• “I lived in a trailer with a lot of people.”
The anticipated sale of the tax credits to an investor is being counted on to provide a large portion of the funds needed to build 72 apartments for modest income Routt County households at Alpenglow Village on Pine Grove Road in Steamboat Springs, south of U.S. Highway 40.
Already, the Housing Authority’s 48 apartments in The Reserves at Steamboat are transforming family life for those households, many of them led by single parents.
Asked what was most significant about her family’s move from a mobile home to a three-bedroom apartment at The Reserves, Mayra Jaregui said it has changed the lives of her sons, Anthony, 10, and Jhonatan, 8.
“More than anything, it’s been a huge change for my kids because before we were all living and sleeping in one room,” Jaregui said. “Now they have their own room. They can play with friends outside. They say they never want to live anywhere else.”
The proposed Alpenglow Village would represent the Housing Authority’s second project in collaboration with private-sector developer Overland Property Group, based in Kansas. It will provide rental apartments primarily for households earning 60 percent or less of the local median income. But for the first time, up to 24 of the new apartments would be available to households earning up to 120 percent of the area median household income.
The Reserves tenant employment:
• Housekeeping: 1
• Lodging: 8
• Restaurant: 7
• Services, banks, nonprofit: 5
• Retail: 4
• Construction: 3
• Stylist/salon: 3
• Retired: 2
• Health: 2
• Unemployed: 1
The Reserves tenant demographics:
• Families: 33
• Children: 53
• Seniors: 7
• Minorities/immigrants: 19
Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley acknowledged this week that, even with voter approval in 2017 of a 1-mill property tax to help build more housing, he was somewhat surprised that the Colorado Housing Finance Authority awarded its second round of federal income tax credits so soon after helping to fund the successful Reserves.
Based on informal Housing Authority surveys at the Reserves, many of the working households that will move into Alpenglow Village sometime in 2020 will be leaving substandard housing behind.
One woman told Integrated Community Executive Director Sheila Henderson, who is also vice president of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority board, that the economy of moving into the Reserves allowed her to reduce her weekly employment from 80 to 40 hours, giving her the time she needs to devote to her family.
Housing Authority Board President Roger Ashton said he and his fellow board members are already looking beyond Alpenglow Village in order to keep the housing project pipeline full during the 10-year lifetime of the voter-approved property tax.
“We’re inventorying every vacant property in Steamboat and our service area and getting prices,” Ashton said. “The team is trying to stay ahead of Jason. Staff is going to be busting their behinds over the next few months getting Alpenglow Village built. Construction starts next spring.”
Jaregui is recovering from a bad back and is just returning to work full-time as a housekeeper at the Holiday Inn Steamboat Springs, where she has worked for eight years. She likes her job and said everyone at work is nice to her.
Jaregui confides she doesn’t socialize with her neighbors at the Reserves, like her sons do. But she enjoys raising tomatoes, cilantro and radishes in the communal garden.
Her primary focus is on Anthony and Jhonatan, who attend Soda Creek Elementary School.
“I want them to grow up to lead productive, professional lives,” she said through an interpreter.
Tom Ross retired from the Steamboat Pilot & Today in June after 36 years in the newspaper business. He continues to write a regular column for the paper.
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