Steamboat Springs The Regional Affordable Living Foundation is perched on a land deal that could brighten the future for some downtown trailer owners whose prospects are pretty cloudy at present.
"We believe we will have some land under contract in the near future," RALF Executive Director Rob Dick said. "Our initial estimate is this will provide enough space to accommodate people at a price they can afford."
Dick said RALF plans to buy the property and then sell lots to trailer owners. RALF is a nonprofit group that supports affordable housing alternatives in Routt County.
The news comes just in time for people at the Trailer Haven mobile home park at Oak and Third streets. The land under their homes has been bought by the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association, which has plans to develop it.
"I think it will be great if we can own the property. That is true affordable housing," said Doug Lockwood, who has lived at Trailer Haven for 15 years.
Since May, when the trailer park residents were told that the Health and Rec Association had bought the land, tensions between the residents and the association board have been high.
Before Thanksgiving, the Health and Rec Association sent letters to Trailer Haven residents asking them to remove their trailers by May 1 or face eviction.
The Health and Rec board has offered $4,000 to each of the residents to help them move their trailers and clean up the land. However, one of the problems for trailer owners is finding a place to move their homes to.
What RALF is proposing may be just the place they're looking for.
Like the trailer owners, members of the Health and Rec board said Monday they are thrilled with the news that RALF may buy property on which to put the trailers.
"We will back their efforts to get Planning Commission to move quickly and be supportive of the trailer park residents' efforts," said board President Stuart Handloff.
"This is a valuable element of community housing."
While RALF hopes to have the new land under contract sometime this week, its leaders still have to go through the planning and zoning process before the deal is finalized.
"The timeline is my biggest question how soon can we get that in the works," Lockwood said.
Dick said he expects the process to go pretty quickly. He's hoping to get planning and zoning approval within 45 days of starting the process.
Dick said he doesn't want the price or the location of the property revealed yet, but he said the ground is flat enough to make putting in utilities and other infrastructure fairly easy.
"I think the city is very interested in helping these people in any way they can," Dick said.
When asked if the Health and Rec board would consider extending the May 1 eviction deadline to accommodate possible snags, Handloff said it was something that would have to be discussed.
In the meantime, Realtor Bob Geer has been working on the land deal. It has been a pet project for Geer because he knows people in Trailer Haven, but he said it is the landowner who is making the deal work.
"The landowner is very sympathetic to these people's plight," Geer said.
Geer hopes to have the contract signed by all parties by mid-week.
RALF also is helping the Trailer Haven residents find financing to help buy their individual lots.
Some of the residents whose trailers are too old to roll down the highway might have to buy new trailers or modular homes.
While Trailer Haven has 10 mobile homes on its site, the new land is large enough to accommodate other people who might want to buy land for their mobile or modular homes.
That is good news, said Lockwood, who believes it is only a matter time before residents at other local trailer parks will be in the same situation he is.
"Other parks should support RALF in what they do because when all those people have to move or relocate, it will add to the affordable housing crunch," Lockwood said.