Craig Housing Authority works to define local housing needs
The Craig Housing Authority is working toward its first official meeting while investigating potential projects, but some constituents say more work still needs to be done to define what affordable housing is and set the target income levels for potential projects.
The newly formed Craig Housing Authority is not yet ready to hold its first meeting, but City Manager Peter Brixius said recently that city staff are working closely with Ayres & Associates to prepare for future development projects.
According to Brixius, the efforts have been heavily focused on two public sites for potential projects and in seeking more grant funding.
“We are hoping to get invited for an additional $1.5 million grant for the incentive grant program,” Brixius said. “That with the current match that we have, we could probably complete a good portion of the build out on two sites for horizontal improvement for affordable housing.”
Brixuis explained the potential affordable housing project could be up to 140% of area median income, which would put the acquisition price at about $325,000 or $330,000 and allow first-time homebuyers to get into a single-family home. The housing authority is also looking at some rental projects that would be similar to the sale models.
However, some Craig City Council members are concerned about how anticipated projects are communicated with the public because community members have expressed concerns about affordable housing projects in the past.
Birxius said there‘s an important difference between affordable housing and low-income housing, which he defined as Section-8 housing that is subsidized and regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. Local housing developments that would fall into that category would be Columbine Apartments on the west end of town and Sunset Meadows senior apartments.
“Affordable housing could be referred to as workforce housing,” Brixius exlained. “That’s a nice term, and that’s what it is frankly. We’re talking about housing that requires you to have some income to move into those properties.”
The Craig Housing Authority has flexibility with the targeted population and income levels the projects could aim to serve.
Still, Vicki Burns, president-elect of the Craig Association of Realtors, said on Tuesday that $325,000 for a single-family home in Craig was not affordable, even for a two-income family.
Burns presented council members with a publication from the National Association of Realtors called “On Common Ground” and focused on data-driven community planning. In her comments, she suggested the city take another look at its process and what is considered an affordable property for homeowners in Craig.
According to Burns, the median home price in Craig right now is $312,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, and homes out of town on acreage would be closer to $350,000 or more. Ten years ago, the median price for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Craig was $118,000.
Burns also asked that City Council look at data being used in other communities to make planning decisions when considering the potential parcels for development.
“If you don’t get surveys from potential homeowners or people who are looking for housing in our community, maybe talk to the local Realtor organization in town and find out what kind of housing we’ve had clients looking for,” Burns said.
There are a lot more people in the community in what would be considered low-income housing, which would be homes that start around $100,000, Burns explained. Most of the housing in Craig that would currently fall into this range would be townhomes and mobile home parks.
“The terminology changes with the weather as far as what we look at being considered affordable or low-income or housing needs,” Burns said. “And we would appreciate being able to have some input in your decisions as far as what kind of housing projects you’re looking at putting into the city because we work with these people every day.”
Brixius said city staff and Ayres & Associates have been investigating a housing manufacturing company in Buena Vista that has been providing housing for a number of communities. The manufacturing process is efficient enough that it can create tracks of homes where a 1,200- to 1,300-square-foot home is built in 18 days with another home just a day behind it.
The city has also been looking into another design concept for townhome units. Brixius recommended city officials tour the facilities in December as they continue to explore the options.
At the first City Council meeting in December, there will be a review of new ordinances for building code revisions that would accommodate workforce housing and aid the development process.
In other business:
- Upper Yampa Conservancy would like to contribute funding to the Yampa Corridor project. Brixius said city staff are looking to see if there is room for the amount being given.
- Council member Tom Kleinschnitz attended a river access meeting in Hayden where Melanie Kilpatrick represented the city of Craig and many times was the go-to person for anything pertaining to the river in Moffat County.
- Brixius and Craig Mayor Ryan Hess plan to travel to Pueblo on Dec. 6 to present a grant application for the 2023 collection system improvement project.
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