Housing program seeks Craig interest

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A program that helps people build homes in Routt County could get priced out of the market.

It hasn't happened yet, but it's an eventuality for which the Yampa Valley Housing Authority is preparing.

The Housing Authority operates Hands on Housing, a program that provides low-interest loans to qualified applicants, who, in cooperation with other applicants, build their own homes.

The Housing Authority wants to know what interest Craig residents have in joining the program, Housing Authority Director Heidi Nunnikhoven said.

"We haven't been expanding to Craig because we've been able to do it here (Steamboat Springs)," Nunnikhoven said.

Through Hands on Housing, families receive a 100-percent loan from the United States Department of Agriculture, but they must provide labor for 30 hours a week on their home and the homes of their neighbors.

The biggest obstacle in Steamboat has been finding affordable land, Nunnikhoven said.

The program can afford to buy lots for $25,000 to $35,000. Lots in Steamboat, Oak Creek and Stagecoach -- where a lot can sell for $80,000 -- often are above that price range.

Hayden still is affordable, as is much of Craig, Nunnikhoven said.

But Hands on Housing won't leave Routt County unless it becomes impossible to continue the program there.

The Housing Authority would be willing to help a similar program start in Moffat County, Nunnikhoven said.

Starting a program in Craig is mostly a matter of finding a nonprofit organization that's willing to take on the work, USDA rural development agent Cindy Hill said.

"There's a lot of angles to it. We'd love to have it in Craig," Hill said.

The nonprofit would need to apply for a grant, get a construction supervisor and coordinate the building of 24 homes in three years, she said.

To be eligible for the program, individuals must make less than $40,600 a year, and a family of four must make no more than $58,000 a year.

Participants must be empl-oyed during the course of the project, and they work on the houses for 30 hours a week for about 10 months.

Participants basically give up their weekends, Nunnik-hoven said.

The Housing Authority seeks to obtain lots in close proximity to one another.

With six to eight nearby lots, the agency can pool enough laborers to get some work done.

Anyone interested in the program or who wants to learn more about it can call the Housing Authority at 870-0167.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craig-daily--press.com.

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