Eagle County is making progress on housing goals | VailDaily.com

Eagle County is making progress on housing goals

Eagle County in 2022 dedicated more than $11 million to a joint project with Colorado Mountain College to build rental units in Edwards. The county in 2023 expects to spend another $10.6 million on housing initiatives.
Colorado Mountain College/archive image

When Eagle County’s Bold Housing Moves project was approved in 2021, there was an ambitious goal of 500 units — either new, or deed-restricted existing homes — by the end of this year.

Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney Monday acknowledged the effort may fall short of the goal.

Big steps

A lot of Eagle County’s Bold Housing Moves happen one unit at a time. Here’s a look at some of the big projects.
West Eagle: The project anticipates 115 units in the first phase. Local firm RA Nelson this week will begin estimating prices for the project.
Haymeadow. The county is working on a bulk purchase of 43 units in the first phase, with the remainder of those units being deed restricted by the developer.
Colorado Mountain College: The county has joined in a partnership with the college, and is financing and building a second 36-unit building on the site near the college’s Edwards campus.

County Resiliency Coordinator Tori Franks noted that some projects anticipated in the summer of 2021 didn’t pan out. But Tom Edwards, a member of the county’s Housing and Development Authority board, said he isn’t overly concerned.

“You’re doing a good job,” Edwards said. “If you end up with 400 (units) rather than 500… maybe in 2024 you’ll have 600 units instead of 500.”

Fellow board member Gary Brooks added that roughly 1,700 units are currently somewhere between planning, government approval and construction.

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Stiff competition

And Franks noted there “may be some things bubbling” in the realm of new projects.

Franks added there are large pots of possible state funding about to be available. The problem, she noted, is there’s always stiff competition for those funds.

Franks noted she’s heard “decent rumblings” that one fund already has hundreds of millions of dollars more in requests than money available.

Another fund, roughly $300 million per year statewide, was approved in November of 2022 when voters passed Proposition 123. That measure will use about .1% of state taxable income for housing projects.

The process for distributing those funds is expected to be set this year.

While much of the existing and potential money is dedicated to construction, other substantial portions are dedicated to down payment and rent assistance, as well as assistance for the homeless.

The county also has a loan program to aid homeowners who want to add accessory units to their homes. The program offers money with no interest charged for the first 36 months. Those who use program funds for accessory units will have to certify compliance twice a year, and rent rates must be affordable to those making no more than 100% of the Area Median Income.

County Housing Director Kim Bell Williams “a lot of people” are filling out applications for that program.

County officials are also working on a “rent local” program, although Bell Williams said it’s a bit behind schedule.

Landlords hard to reach

That program is an effort to get landlords now putting units into the short-term rental pool in favor of long-term rentals to local residents.

“It’s been hard for us to reach people on this,” Bell Williams said, adding the county is now working with Landing Locals, a Summit County-based company that works to bring units back into the long-term rental pool

Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry noted that some residents have told her the county should “backstop” units in this program to aid with costs associated with tenant turnover.

The county is also one of the largest local employers, and has been adding units for its own workforce. That includes purchasing a duplex. The county has also purchased a pair of three-bedroom townhomes in Gypsum for use by ECO Transit employees. In addition, the county has master-leased six units at 210 at Castle Peak in Eagle as well as Lake Creek Village in Edwards. The county also has approval to use the home at the west end of the Eagle County Regional Airport runway for use by seasonal airport employees.

Edwards noted that the Federal Aviation Administration approves the use of the home for airport purposes.

While the current programs may not meet their target goals, “This is why we set big, audacious goals,” McQueeney said. “If we don’t hit (the goals) we’re still doing pretty damn good.”

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