Habitat for Humanity, Eagle County Schools partner for teacher-prioritized workforce housing

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Habitat for Humanity builds simple, decent, affordable homes in partnership with local families in need. They’re accepting applications for partner families. For more information on Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, to donate money or real estate or to volunteer, visit or call 970-748-6718.

GYPSUM — Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley receives all kinds of donations: money, time, volunteer labor, material …

But a deal with Eagle County Schools is its first donation of land. The school district donated two acres in Gypsum, between Gypsum Creek Middle School and Red Hill Elementary School. Habitat for Humanity will build between eight and 12 units on the land.

In exchange, school district employees get first crack at the homes, said Elyse Howard, development director of Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.

“There are 30 Habitat for Humanity affiliates across Colorado, and they’re almost all talking about doing projects with teachers. If this is successful, it might become a model for that,” Howard said.

The two entities have been negotiating for more than a year, said Tessa Kirchner, an Eagle County Schools board member.

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“We wanted to be able to maximize this opportunity,” said Tessa Kirchner, another board member. “Any affordable-housing solutions we can create is a step forward.”

The school board unanimously approved a Letter of Intent during its Wednesday, Sept. 27, meeting.

Criteria to qualify

Howard said about 20 percent of their current Habitat homeowners work for the school district.

“What better partner to execute your mission than the school district?” Howard said.

Selection is based on need, ability to pay and willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity. Family income must be between 35 percent and 80 percent of the area’s average median income. For a family of four, that’s $35,000 to $70,720.

You have to complete home-ownership classes that cover personal finances and budgeting, and each adult in your family must work at least 250 hours constructing your home.

You must also be either a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

Your payments are based on a zero-interest loan and 30 percent of your income.

Affiliate of Distinction

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley is one of 23 affiliates across the country to be honored as an Affiliate of Distinction. They were the only rural affiliate to earn the honor.

“It’s a big honor to be one of 23 affiliates out of 1,400 in the U.S. to received this award,” Howard said.

Wander onto a Habitat construction site, and you’ll likely see volunteers wearing T-shirts that ask a very sensible question, “What did you build today?”

“We build homes, community and hope,” Howard said. “We see our homeowners rising to the occasion. Once the basic need of housing is met, they can turn their energy to their community.”

Since the local affiliate was founded in 1995, they’ve built 68 homes that are home to 215 local kids. There will be a total of 74 homes by the end of 2018, Howard said.

Currently, they’re working in Stratton Flats in Gypsum and will build 40 homes there when they’re done.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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