Yampa Valley Housing Authority might be able to tap tax credits for next project, but deal will be complex | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Housing Authority might be able to tap tax credits for next project, but deal will be complex

Framing foreman Jaime Perez works putting up the walls at The Reserves at Steamboat in August 2016. The Yampa Valley Housing Authority talked Jan. 12 about strategies for building its next community housing project.

— Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board President Roger Ashton and Executive Director Jason Peasley called for action on the community housing front in 2017. But it was also plain at Thursday’s YVHA meeting that beyond its next affordable housing project, the local housing authority will require a permanent funding source to deliver on the goal of stimulating and carrying out additional housing projects for people in four distinct markets.

YVHA members voted unanimously to adopt the findings of the Community Housing Steering Committee that call for the creation of 700 new housing units in the coming four years. And YVHA is expected to also explore the steering committee's recommendation that the housing group look for a long-term funding solution at its Jan. 16 retreat.

"The steering committee, made up of our colleagues and neighbors, has done the heavy thinking about the housing issues facing our community. So our task is not to assess or to debate the steering committee's finding," Ashton said Thursday. "Rather, our task in 2017 is to actively explore, propose and implement reasonable solutions that meet the housing needs of the Yampa Valley community that the steering committee's report so ably outlines."

Peasley told YVHA members that although the Colorado Housing Finance Authority has been impressed with the community's ability to develop The Reserves, a 48-unit income-restricted apartment complex on the city's west side, it will be years before Steamboat is considered for another round of 9 percent income tax credits. It was those tax credits that sold for $12.7 million and delivered the equity that allowed the community to attract a private sector developer to build The Reserves.

"The Colorado Housing Finance Authority, they like us," Peasley said. "We've done a really good job. If we could, we'd be building that project every year. Getting another for another three or four years, is unlikely … The reality of the situation is we probably have funds for one more project, and when we do that, we won't have any more funds, and we'll have to go to the city and county with hats in hand."

Peasley said in the shorter term, YVHA has a shot at putting together a proposal and applying to CHFA to build another project with the help of 4 percent tax credits, which wouldn't generate as much income. That would require the local community to tap into cash on hand and likely seek additional help through local government. And doing the deal will be more complex than the last time around.

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Routt County commissioner Doug Monger, who also serves on the YVHA board, pointed out that the authority already owned the site where The Reserves were built. And even though the debt on the land had been consuming all of YVHA’s cash for more than five years, it proved to be the key to building the apartment complex. Monger wondered out loud how YVHA would overcome the scarcity of developable land in a new project.

"Land will be the hardest part," Peasley agreed. "It will require a landowner who's patient and not just wanting to cash out. We've done some preliminary research. It's one of the hardest things when we talk with potential developers. Where is this thing going to be located? And what is the cost of the dirt? It could be the difference between a successful project, or not."

Peasley reported that YVHA will have approximately $250,000 to apply toward a development project this year and the city of Steamboat Springs and the county have more than $175,000 in the West Steamboat fund. The city also has $225,000 in its community housing fund but is funding YVHA with those monies.

Monger cautioned that if the housing authority goes to local governments and the voters with plans for a new tax, it must be prepared to be specific on what it would be spent on.

"If we want to achieve our affordable housing goals, we have to do something different from what we've done for the last 20 years," Peasley concluded.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1