Saturday, January 22, 2005

1st post for MHA

The newest Mapleton Mobilizer and minutes to the management committee meetings have been posted at the main site.

From the Denver Post, Thursday, January 13, 2005

Boulder - Mark Reeder sipped a cup of tea and looked out his back window, where just a few feet away three deer made their way across a small brook and stepped past snowy trees on a cold Wednesday morning.

Reeder lives in Boulder, all right. But he's not in a posh cabin next to Chautauqua Park or a sprawling mansion on a golf course.

He lives in a mobile home park with neighbors who make about 30 percent of what a typical Boulder resident does. And thanks to unique cooperation among neighbors, the city and a nonprofit group, the park will remain affordable for low-income residents for at least the next 99 years.

"There is no place in Boulder - there's no place in the country, as a matter of fact - which designates this amount of affordable housing for that 30 percent (average mean income) group," Reeder said of Mapleton Mobile Home Park. "It's just kind of this beautiful piece of Eden in the middle of Boulder."

Mapleton became the first permanently affordable mobile home park in the state - and one of just a few in the country - last month when the city closed on a land deal with Thistle Community Housing, a private, nonprofit affordable- housing provider.

The Mapleton Homeowners Association worked toward the goal for eight years, and affordable financing was acquired by Thistle. City officials put up a good price, and Boulder acquired the park's 120 units, which will soon receive a $2 million infrastructure upgrade.

"We expect that the community will be (a model)," said Jeff Yegian with Boulder's Housing and Human Services. "And we already have provided information to other communities facing similar issues."

Yegian said the park is a "significant contribution" to the city's goal of having 4,500 affordable homes by 2010.

"The point was this park has, over the years, served a very large percentage of the population who are extremely low income," Yegian said. "We didn't want to lose that."

Under the deal, Thistle owns the land, but residents control the management as part of a 99-year lease agreement.

"You've got a community here that was extremely well-organized," Thistle executive director Aaron Miripol said. "They actually approached us about getting involved in this."

The park's homeowners association had been interested in buying the land when the previous owner put it up for sale in 1996, but it was too expensive.

That's when Boulder housing planner Cindy Pieropan recognized a unique opportunity. Flood mitigation and affordable housing had been named as goals a year earlier in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.

"It just seemed to be an opportunity to combine both goals," Pieropan said.

The city bought the land and upgraded a major drainage though the property along Goose Creek. When that project was finished in 2003, city officials worked with Thistle and Mapleton residents to sell the land back to them.

The deal closed Dec. 9.

"It was a long and difficult but very rewarding process," Pieropan said. "A big part of what made it difficult was there was not a model."

John Davis with Burlington Associates in Community Development, a Vermont-based consulting cooperative promoting community land trusts, said Thistle's arrangement is"one of the flagship community land trusts in the country."

"It is precisely those affluent communities like Boulder that are seeing interest in these kinds of developments," Davis said. "There will be many areas watching the success of this project."

Miripol said the value of affordable housing goes beyond any altruistic factors.

"You want to have a workforce in this community that provides your basic service industry, teaching - really kind of the folks that otherwise would not have an opportunity to be able to afford to live in this community," he said. "That is what Mapleton had done and what it will now do permanently."

Staff writer George Merritt can be reached at 303-247-9948 or

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