The Grand Foundation seeks to manage the purchase of 11 affordable housing units for the county
Five families who lost their homes to the East Troublesome Fire still have no place to live, but a potential purchase in Grand Lake could fix that.
According to the executive director of the Grand Foundation, Megan Ledin, the high costs in Grand County have kept the few fire victims from finding a place to live despite their desire to stay here. She said families had resorted to couch surfing, hotel or, in one case, life in the basement of a church.
The Grand Foundation, which manages the Grand County Wildfire Fund, researched solutions to house these families in collaboration with the Grand County Housing Authority.
During discussions with Grand County commissioners on Tuesday, Ledin said a property in Grand Lake had been identified. Originally the idea was to buy eight condos from the owner, but due to zoning issues there will have to be 11 units.
This would provide the five families of firefighters with an affordable place to live, as well as six more housing units for the workforce.
“When all is said, we just want to see something move,” Ledin said. “We have a catalyst to try to help our firefighter families.”
Ledin did not disclose how much the property would cost as the Grand Foundation had yet to make an offer, but said it would be over $ 1 million. She added that it was still well below market rates and that the condos are currently vacant.
During a workshop in October, the commissioners indicated that they were ready to match the contribution of $ 250,000 from the Grand Foundation for the purchase of affordable housing. The county budgeted for such an expense in 2022.
In addition to grants from various sources, Ledin said the purchase was still short by about $ 400,000. However, the American Rescue Plan offers a one-time low-interest affordable housing loan program repayable over four years.
Ledin said those remaining funds could come from rent payments over the next several years. After lengthy discussions with a local real estate agent, the foundation was able to work out a few rent models, including bills and upkeep, which would translate into a net income of around $ 75,000 per year.
The lowest rent with these models for one-bedroom condos would be $ 800 per month, with the tenant also paying for electricity and sewerage. In addition to the unhoused firefighter families, the remaining units would be outsourced to local labor who meet requirements set out by the Grand County Housing Authority.
Ledin pointed out that the Grand Foundation could facilitate the purchase, but the property would be donated to the Grand County Housing Authority. The commissioners, who are also the county housing administration board, said they would be open to the option.
In addition, the Great Foundation asked the housing authority to apply for the loan to cover the remaining part of the purchase.
A number of questions need to be answered and other details worked out, but the commissioners have instructed the housing authority to apply for the American Rescue Act loan.
The Grand Foundation had not made an offer on the property as of Tuesday, and Ledin said the property would not close until after the New Years.