Future of low-income housing uncertain

Apartment complex up for sale, 48 tenants could be affected


Devin Grove is just one tenant at the Ridgeview apartments who questioned if she'd have a home because of the imminent foreclosure of the complex.

But that would have been a reluctant move for the woman in her early twenties. After a year and half at the quiet, low-income housing west of town, the "community atmosphere" agreed with her.

"At first I was afraid they would kick us all out," Grove said. "It may sound corny but everybody's like a real family here."

Vouchers available through the Independent Life Center are available for renters at the Ridgeview apartments to help maintain low-income rent prices. Those coupons can be used to reduce rent rates at any other apartments in Craig, said center officials.

The Ridgeview apartments, owned by the Evans Real Estate Group of Denver, are up for auction today on the steps of the Moffat County Courthouse. According the to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), owner Tom Evans defaulted on an August payment, which set the complex into foreclosure. A loan taken out against the then new 48-unit complex in 1980 amounted to $1,716,800 from the Colorado Housing Finance Authority for the sale of the apartments.

The units at Ridgeview apartments represent almost a fourth of the market for low-income housing in Craig. Columbine apartments have 120 units and Sunset Meadows, which is subsidized housing reserved for senior citizens, sport 88 units.

The prospect of new ownership at the Ridgeview complex may be in the best interest of tenants, said apartment manager Jessie Porter.

Abiding with HUD guidelines, a prospective owner is required to adhere to long list of major improvements within a year of the sale. Some of those big-ticket items include new roofing and pavement, Porter said.

HUD estimates about $266,000 for the cost of repairs in literature outlining the specifics of the Ridgeview apartment sale.

New ownership also is required to maintain a "priority" to rent first to low-income tenants for 20 years after the sale,

Porter said.

But with the sale of the property, market renters or those paying full price can rent units at Ridgeview. Yet that prospect wasn't a major concern for Porter.

"I believe there's more of a market in Craig for low-income housing than for market renters," she said.

The potential reduction of low-income units in Craig is a concern to Keith Antonson, the director of Moffat County Housing Services who oversees Sunset Meadows.

"I think it'd be a shame to lose that housing," he said. "It's an alternative to people in the community. In the spirit of low income, I think it's very important that we help out that segment of the population."

So far, only about half of the Ridgeview tenants have taken advantage of the rent vouchers offered by the Independent Life Center, said the office manager Loid Luscomb.

"With the housing voucher, residents can choose to live here or go somewhere else," he said. "I don't understand why more people haven't taken advantage of this yet. Actually, it's a benefit to the community. Traditionally, people in low-income housing are restricted there."

Using the voucher, Grove intends to stay put in her apartment. In fact, she hasn't heard from any of her neighbors about moving away because of the likely change in ownership.

Her concern now is about losing Porter, "who is always accommodating," as an apartment manager,

"That's what worries me," Grove said. "I really hope they keep her. They'll make a lot of people mad if they don't."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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