'Smurfville' makeover finished

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— An exterior remodel to a 55-unit affordable housing project in Steamboat is finished and the development once known as Smurfville has taken on a whole new look.

"I think the exterior looks 100 percent better," said Simon Kassemi, a 14-year-old who lives in one of the apartments in Hillside Village Apartments. "It's no longer Smurfville, that's for sure."

Underneath new off-white siding, at the base of the exterior of the five buildings, a small swath of light blue paint reminds the residents of the smurf-like world they used to live in. But the rest of the development looks nothing like it once did.

"It was ugly. It was pretty beat up. It could never have held paint again," said Tom Trip of Bighorn Exteriors, who, along with two other workers, completed the job in about six months.

They added the siding, fixed windows and worked on the overhangs, Trip said.

"They did a phenomenal job," said Rob Dick, the executive director of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation.

The units are owned by RALF and have income requirements to ensure that low and moderate income households get to rent them out. The renovation was financed by a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan in the amount of about $110,000, Dick said. The interest rate on the loan is only 1 percent, Dick said.

The people who live in the apartments pay no more than 30 percent of their monthly incomes toward rent, with the rest of the cost being subsidized by the USDA, Dick said. The USDA is concerned about a range of issues that affect rural areas, including affordable housing, Dick said.

The interiors of the apartments are the next facet to be renovated. That project is being undertaken by Habitat for Humanity, which will use the money it receives from the renovations to pay for a house it will build for a low-income family. A number of church groups and service clubs are also involved in that project.

The USDA is also providing the money for that work, bringing their total loan to about $400,000, Dick said.

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