Eagle-Vail’s Riverview ready for $17M upgrade
August 3, 2010
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – If Riverview apartments were a rock star, they would be Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ older brother.
More than $17 million in federal grants is being poured into Riverview to upgrade the woebegone apartment complex. Work should begin next week, said Alex Potente, Eagle County’s housing director.
Riverview is the county’s only federally subsidized low-income housing project.
The county bought it from local developer Fred Green in 1999 for $5.7 million. Green built the project in the 1970s and his tax breaks were about to expire. He was shopping it around as a private-market condo complex when the county bought it, and immediately spent $1.3 million in maintenance.
“It’s astonishing that you’ve managed to do this with no tax money directly from Eagle County taxpayers,” said Peter Runyon, county commissioner. “It’s federal money and we all contribute to that, but it’s a federal pot of money and if we don’t use it, it will be spent somewhere else.”
The 66 families living there had to be relocated while the work on the five Riverview buildings is being done. That cost between $300 and $500 per family, according to the project’s budget numbers. They’ll live in Lake Creek Village, Buffalo Ridge and two Vail Resorts apartment complexes, the Tarnes and Riveredge.
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In exchange for their $17 million, taxpayers will pay for new siding, insulation, interior and exterior lighting, security systems on the five buildings, community rooms, playgrounds and a new parking lot.
It’s funded largely through federal income tax credits bought by Verizon, and an $8.9 million loan from Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Eagle Riverview Affordable Housing Corporation was set up in 1999 to acquire the property and to funnel money from federal grants and other sources to Riverview.
At the end of 15 years, in 2025, Riverview reverts back to the county for the amount of debt left on the property.
County commissioners Runyon and Sara Fisher Tuesday approved a $500,000 loan to the county’s housing authority from the county’s general fund.
A local architect firm, Interaction Architects’ Matt Lee and Seth Bousson, was hired to handle the project.
Because rents are controlled at Riverview, tenants only pay 30 percent of their stated income in rent.
The federal government subsidizes the difference between that 30 percent and the market rate for each apartment.
Low income in Eagle County is $64,000 for a four-person household, according to the county’s area median income statistics with Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency that handles Riverview.
In Eagle County, the area median income for a four-person household is $86,600, according to those HUD statistics.
For a little perspective, $20 an hour is $40,000 a year.
Up to nine people can live in a three-bedroom apartment, according to Debra Pompey with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority.
Families also get a break on their rent of $480 per child, said Pompey.
Seniors get subsidies for their medical expenses. Families in which all adults work get deductions for childcare expenses.
While there are no upper income limits to qualify to live in Riverview, rents are calculated on a sliding scale – the higher your income the higher the percentage you are required to pay, said Pompey.
Income increases cannot get you kicked out of Riverview, said Pompey.
“If you qualify when you move in, you can’t get kicked out unless you violate the lease,” said Pompey. “If you’re making enough money that you’re not eligible for a subsidy, you have to pay the full amount of your rent.”
That’s $1,252 for a two-bedroom apartment, and $1,491 for a three bedroom.
Illegal aliens living in Riverview will not be kicked out, just because they’re illegal, Pompey said. An illegal cannot sign the lease, but can live there with legal immigrants.
However, HUD does not subsidize an illegal’s percentage of the rent, Pompey said.
If four people live in a two bedroom apartment and three are legal, HUD pays three-fourths of their low income subsidy, paying nothing for the illegal alien, Pompey said.