Desperate for affordable homes, teachers in Colorado’s high country turn to Habitat for Humanity |

Desperate for affordable homes, teachers in Colorado’s high country turn to Habitat for Humanity

The nonprofit is in uncharted territory as it builds permanent homes for educators and other public service workers in Eagle, Summit, Park and Pitkin counties

Erica Breunlin
The Colorado Sun
Leilani Cardenas, 6, enjoys her new room in Gypsum on Monday, April 18, 2022.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

GYPSUM — Brenda Saucedo has lived in Eagle County all her life, but with housing prices that have become out of reach and a daughter to care for, the place she considers home once left her homeless.

Three years ago, Saucedo, of Gypsum, turned to a shelter while figuring out how to piece together a future after becoming a single mother. Now, she’s in her own house with bedrooms for her and her daughter, a balcony where they share lunch on warm spring days and a front door that opens up to a view of the Sawatch Range in the distance.

It’s everything Saucedo, 29, has wanted for her and her 6-year-old daughter, Leilani Cardenas — and everything that has remained out of her grasp in a county where the average home sale price is about $2 million.

“It’s kind of like a feeling of being stuck,” Saucedo said, adding, “you just start questioning yourself a lot.”

Saucedo, an administrator in Eagle County School District’s early childhood department, became a homeowner in December after Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley selected her to receive one of 12 houses newly built on land donated in 2018 by the school district.

That donation solidified a partnership that helped the local Habitat for Humanity focus on building affordable, permanent housing for educators, police officers, health care workers and other members of the county’s workforce who are living in a precarious middle ground. They earn the kind of salary that once made it possible for them to live in the community where they work and have stability. But now, as resort mountain towns buckle under the weight of a housing crisis with soaring home prices and low stock, their income no longer stretches far enough. And yet, in many cases, they still make too much money to qualify for help from government agencies or nonprofits.

“They’re finding themselves in this limbo,” said April-Dawn Knudsen, executive director of Summit Habitat for Humanity, which is also embarking on a project to connect teachers and other community workers with affordable housing in Summit and Park counties.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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