Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley secures land for 7 years of home-building | VailDaily.com

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley secures land for 7 years of home-building

Members of an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps work on a Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley home at Stratton Flats in Gypsum. It's been a busy fall for the local Habitat group, which finalized land deals for 48 new homes. That's enough land inventory to carry the group through the next seven years of construction.
Pam Boyd | pboyd@vaildaily.com

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley

By the Numbers

$595,000: Median home sale price in Eagle County.

$190,000: Current sale price of a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom Habitat home.

$822: Eagle County’s average weekly wage; $220 below the statewide average weekly wage.

1 out of 3: Estimated number of Eagle River Valley households who qualify for a Habitat home based on their income.

10 for 1: On average, Habitat receives 10 homeowner applications for every one home that the organization builds in Eagle County.

33 percent: Increase in the number of homes that Habitat will build each year starting in 2021.

128: Number of families who will live in Habitat homes by 2025.

250: Number of volunteer hours or “sweat equity” invested per adult Habitat homeowner on the construction of a family home.

0 percent: Interest rate for a Habitat home mortgage.

GYPSUM — There’s been a lot of activity at the Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley site in Gypsum this week as 11 crew members from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps work to bring four new homes up from the ground.

“What’s really great about hosting groups like this is it’s the time of year when our local volunteer corps gets busy with their own lives,” said Julie Kapala, communications and marking manager for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.

The work underway is a milestone for Habitat. When the two duplexes currently under construction are completed, work will shift over to a new site at the IK Bar Ranch next to Red Hill Elementary School.

But Habitat isn’t done with Stratton Flats, either. The group will return to the area after their IK Bar work is done. In total, Habitat has now tied up construction plans for 48 new homes.

“Having our land needs met for the next few years will allow the organization to focus on other important areas of our work.”Stuart GreenHabitat for Humanity Vail Valley Board of Directors president

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Looking long term

For more than two decades, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley has been working to help local families realize their dreams for home ownership. But 2018 has been an exceptionally busy year as Habitat inked a pair of land deals that positioned the organization to continue its work for many years into the future.

After more than a year of planning and discussions, on Oct. 25 Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley closed a deal to purchase a large parcel of land. The newly acquired Gypsum property is located on the southern end of Polar Star Properties’ Spring Creek Village project and is adjacent to Habitat’s existing Stratton Flats neighborhood, where 40 homes have been built since 2012.

“Land deals are hard and they take a lot of time and a lot of patience and a lot of money, frankly,” Kapala said.

The financing challenge is what has Habitat extra excited about the 12 units planned at the IK Bar Ranch.

“The IK Bar parcel is the first time we have gotten land donated since we stared in 1995,” Kapala said.

Eagle County Schools donated the site as part of its comprehensive master plan for the IK Bar property.

That land donation, combined with the October purchase, provides Habitat with a seven-year supply of land. What’s more, with the two deals finalized, Habitat will now officially launch its Blueprint for Growth: 2019-2021 strategic plan, which centers around increasing the organization’s home building capacity from six units per year to eight units per year — a 33 percent increase — by 2021.

“Having our land needs met for the next few years will allow the organization to focus on other important areas of our work,” said Stuart Green, president of the Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley Board of Directors.

Blueprint for Growth

Habitat’s strategic planning efforts began in June 2017 and the 15-month process included in-person stakeholder interviews, bench marking studies of comparable Habitat affiliates across the country and consultation by Habitat for Humanity of Colorado. The overwhelming conclusion was that Habitat’s work in Eagle County is more critical than ever.

“Eagle County looks very different since Habitat built its first home here in 1995,” said John Welaj, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley executive director. “Today, our county is a place where hardworking families can no longer afford a place to call home. There is much to be done and we must work in new and innovative ways to increase opportunities for more families to become homeowners.”

“It’s getting really hard to select families for Habitat homes,” Kapala said.

She noted that during the last application cycle, 69 families applied for the six available homes.

“The need, obviously, is there,” she said.

Strategic goals

Seven strategic goals will drive Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley future activities and programs:

By 2021, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley will serve 100 families. The family services program will include comprehensive post-purchase education that promotes self-sufficiency.

Increase home building capacity by 33 percent; constructing 20 affordable and energy-efficient homes between 2019-2021.

By 2021, profits from the Habitat ReStore will cover 100 percent of the administrative costs for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, allowing all fundraising dollars to go directly to serving families and constructing new homes.

Raise $4 million between 2019-2021 to fund capacity growth in home construction and family services; representing a 60 percent increase in overall fundraising efforts.

Recruit volunteers to fill 15,000 opportunities at construction sites, in offices, at the Habitat ReStore or by serving on a committee.

Ensure adequate land acquisition by obtaining 48 home sites for planned and future building efforts.

Launch an advocacy program to protect and expand policies and resources for affordable housing.

As a leader in developing affordable housing solutions in Eagle County, Habitat relies on collaborative partnerships to fulfill its mission. The local organization sells volunteer-built homes to families with income between 35 and 80 percent of the area’s median income. The families put in 250 hours of volunteer work, per adult, for the organization. They then pay a zero-interest mortgage to pay off the construction cost of the home.

“It isn’t enough to keep doing what we’re doing,” Welaj said. “Our new strategic plan signifies an important step in the growth of our organization and we invite others to help us reach our exciting new goals.”

To read more about Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley’s 2019-21 Strategic Plan, visit habitatvailvalley.org/about/strategic-plan.

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