YVHA self-help project in works

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The Yampa Valley Housing Authority has launched a plan to add eight duplex units to the valley's stock of deed-restricted affordable housing. If a federal grant comes through, the Brooklyn Park project would be a self-help project that requires owners to invest sweat equity in their new homes.

Brooklyn Park would be composed of four two-story duplex buildings on a 28,200-square-foot lot at the rear of the historic Brooklyn neighborhood. YVHA members think the lot may be one of the last undeveloped parcels within walking distance to downtown that they can build on. The parcel is owned by Ty Lockhart.

Kathi Meyer, president of the YVHA board, said the organization will push ahead with the project, even if the grant does not come through.

"While we hope that we will be successful in obtaining this new grant, future allocation of funding for this national program is being reviewed through the federal budget process at this time," Meyer said. "In the event that the YVHA does not receive this grant, it is our intent to build the duplexes, using local contractors, and then offer them for sale to qualified residents under the deed restrictions."

YVHA has built a track record with self-help projects in Steamboat's West End Village, as well as in Hayden and Oak Creek. West End Village is complete, the project in Hayden is within several months of completion, and the project in Oak Creek has a fair amount of work left.

Elizabeth Black,- YVHA's executive director, said families that are awarded a self-help housing unit needn't have construction skills before they begin. How-ever, per----severance and patience are musts.

"Unskilled fam---ilies have learned many construction techniques through self-help projects," she said. "The real issue is the time commitment."

Self-help families are req-uired to invest 30 hours of labor a week until the project is complete.

"It's nothing short of a struggle to balance your working life and family life with the 30 hours a week," Black said. "It's very difficult to do. And then there are construction delays."

Brooklyn Park's 1,250-square-foot townhomes would be identical in size, height and layout to the duplexes built in West End Village. Meyer said different but complementary color schemes and varying siding materials and roof pitches will give the project its identity.

Meyer said the site is not without challenges. Brooklyn is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Steamboat. As a result, some of the streets in the area are unpaved, narrower than current city standards, or both.

"The developer is requesting that the city schedule the hard-surface paving of both city streets, Agate and Marble," Meyer wrote in a memo to the Planning Department. "The developer would pave and pay for the portion of the project where the current city roads end."

Another constraint on the site is that a lift station may be necessary for the project to tie into the city sewer system.

The project, as proposed, also exceeds allowable density in the zone district and would require a variance. Meyer said YVHA has tried to minimize the effects on the neighborhood by setting the duplexes back from an existing alleyway and clustering them together, close to the steep grade of Howelsen Hill. The buildings would be linked by internal paths, with a single parking lot on the north end of the project.

Meyer said the creation of eight deed-restricted, affordable housing units would contribute to the economic sustainability of the community by providing work-force housing.

"This parcel may well be one of the last undeveloped residential parcels within close proximity to the downtown area that would contribute to the goal of creating community housing for a diverse but underserved population," she said.

-- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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