Dance benefits Routt Habitat

Ball builds support for construction of affordable housing

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— High heels and hard hats will mingle at the inaugural Carpenter's Ball on Saturday.

The Carpenter's Ball will be sponsored by the 2006 Leadership Steamboat class and will be held at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel to benefit Habitat for Humanity, which offers affordable housing in Routt County.

Routt County Habitat for Humanity has built and renovated houses with the help of partner and homeowner families since 1999. Those houses were sold to partner families at no profit and financed with no-interest loans. "We are now able to sell some of our mortgages to an agency of the state of Colorado," said Jim Ballard, local resident and board member of Routt county Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat recovers 95 percent of its costs up front, which allows it to buy more land to build other homes. Habitat must raise matching funds locally to participate in this program. "It's a challenge, but if we are successful in our fundraising, we are able to build twice as many homes for lower-income families in the area," Ballard said.

Affordable housing has been an issue in Routt County for a long time. Research shows that 30 percent of Routt County families have household incomes less than 50 percent of the median income for the county. This qualifies them for $100,000 mortgages.

"We are the only organization that targets three-bedroom, two-bath homes for a little over $100,000," Ballard said. "We make it possible for local service workers such as teachers, nursing aides, store clerks, truck drivers, and laborers -- the people who make our county function -- to afford a home in the area."

Leadership Steamboat is a development program jointly sponsored by Colorado Mountain College and the Chamber of Commerce. Each class completes a community service project before the program is finished. "We are excited that Leadership Steamboat has chosen to assist us in this endeavor," Ballard said.

Tickets for the Carpenter's Ball are available for $50 per person and $800 for corporate tables. E-mail carpentersball.routt@yahoo.com or call 879-0882, extension 209, to make your reservation, and come dressed in carpenter attire.

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