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Eagle County teachers want single-family homes

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” A single-family home in Edwards seems to be ideal for Eagle County teachers. Down-payment assistance would be nice, and so would help with financing.

How the school district can make that ideal become a reality for its employees though is hard to say now.

The school district recently polled more than 280 of its employees, mostly teachers, to help figure out its place in the big affordable housing puzzle and what, realistically, the school district can do.

The survey shows that most school workers, 72 percent, are after their own homes, the kinds with back yards and fences. Instead of large developments of low-cost apartments and condos ” they’d rather the school district help them with financing and down payments.

“There is a strong desire to have some kind of assistance with securing loans and money,” said Andrej Birjulin, director of research and evaluation for the school district.

Deed restricted homes were also popular ” more than 25 percent of the participants said they’d like to see deed restricted properties, either townhomes, duplexes, condominiums or single-family homes, with the latter being the most popular.

The single-family home might be the top choice for most people, but also, the results show that many people don’t expect to jump from a dorm-style apartment to their own home and are willing to take steps, perhaps through deed restricted homes.

“The overall goal is clearly getting to own a single-family home, but what we’re trying to understand is how to build decent stepping stones, and deed restricted properties can play an important part in that,” Birjulin said.

So, what else does the survey tell us?

Well, for one, most employees who took the survey are married, and nearly all those have children. While Edwards was the most popular town to live in, Eagle and Gypsum were also popular among the staff.

Around half of those surveyed said they planned on changing homes in the next three years. And, when choosing a home, the most important criteria was cost, followed by type of home (whether it’s a single-family home, apartment or condo), followed by size, commute to work and proximity to outdoor recreation.

In March, the school board decided to become a major investor in the West End, a proposed development in Edwards that will include 72 affordable homes. The board approved securing at least seven homes in the West End for about $35,000, but could end up investing in more. The district would gain its investment back as it sell the homes to teachers or staff.

The board is also seriously considering investing in Stratton Flats, an affordable housing community being built in Gypsum. Stratton Flats, located on the western side of the airport, is a neighborhood of 336 homes ” 226 of them carrying deed restrictions, and a third of those with price caps.

This development, called the “Second Miller Ranch” by some, will include everything from small, one-bedroom condos, selling for about $165,000, to 2,020-square-foot single-family homes for around $370,000.

Before deciding on Stratton Flats, and any other possible affordable housing solutions, the school board will discuss at future meetings what should be done about the survey results.

As for financing and down payment assistance?

“The more viable would be down payment assistance. It is a possibility,” Birjulin said. “It seems more of a stretch that we would be getting into the financing business ourselves.”

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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