Fraser Valley in Grand County, Colorado is attempting to ease the housing need for full-time employees. Many recent home buyers in the valley are not full-time residents. According to Sky-Hi News 50% of these part-time residents make over $300,000 annually, where only 10% of full-time residents make this much. This disparity in earning power has created a housing crisis for the working class. The lack of housing is driving the workforce out, while remote workers who can pay expensive land costs move in. If you need proof, count the help wanted signs in any mountain town. The town of Winter Park recognizes this crisis and has committed $1.27 million towards the rent of deed-restricted housing.
This funding, collected by the newly created Winter Park Housing Authority, is committed to the Fireside Creek Apartment complex. Currently, the complex will have one-bedroom and two-bedroom units and will be reserved for people who work 32 hours per week in the valley at a minimum. Originally designed as a 70-unit complex, it is now designed for 50 units because the Town Board of Adjustments rejected a height variance request according to Sky-Hi News. To compensate Winter Park Partners, the real estate firm selling the units, for the loss of apartments the town of Winter Park will contribute $65,000 for 10 years to the group.
Construction is projected to begin in September and the transfer of land from the township to Winter Park Partners for $10 will happen in August. To reduce the rent on 24 units, the town of Winter Park will contribute $124,000 per year for five years. Half of the 24 units will be held at 80% of the Average Median Income (AMI), which is $1,183 per month for the area. The other half will be held at 100% of AMI, which is $1, 478 per month. After five years the 24 units will increase to 120% of AMI, or $1,774, to match the other 26 units. All of the two-bedroom units will be capped at $2,130 per month. The Winter Park Housing Authority has officially categorized the complex as affordable housing, therefore the residents will be eligible for property tax breaks.
This affordable housing plan enacted by the local government is an assurance to the working class of the town that there is a continued effort to meet their needs. In additional efforts, Winter Park Resort, the town of Winter Park, and Grand Foundation have collaborated to create the Winter Park Affordable Housing Donor Advised Fund. According to wpgov.com this cooperative effort was realized after a study found the extent of housing disparity among permanent Fraser Valley residents. The group has created a Donor Advised Fund of the Grand Foundation to meet the needs of workers unable to afford housing in the valley.
This seems to be a strong start to affordably house the permanent residents of the valley. Hopefully, other areas take note as the workforce is forced to leave mountain towns across the country.