Saturday, November 05, 2005

Affordable housing in sight - Daily Camera article

November 5, 2005

By Jenna Weisser, For the Camera

Photo by Mark Leffingwell

Jonathan Machen, left, and Mark Reeder, both members of the Mapleton Homeowners Association, stand in the Mapleton Mobile Home Park in Boulder, which recently was acquired by Thistle Community Housing as part of an ongoing program to find and maintain affordable housing in the county.

Thistle Community Housing and the U of C Federal Credit Union have teamed up to bring more affordable housing to Boulder County.

The Alliance for the American Dream program was launched in 2003 by the U of C and Thistle, a nonprofit housing provider, in response to the high cost of housing in Boulder County.

"The goal of the alliance is to raise $2.5 million over five years to support Thistle's goal of creating 1,000 permanent affordable homes in Boulder county," said Sue Bailhache, community and public relations manager for the U of C.
The Alliance recently received an additional boost when the National Credit Union Foundation awarded a $150,000 grant to the U of C.

The grant money will be leveraged with money from other sources to raise $100 million, which is the amount needed to meet a goal to buy 1,000 homes in the county.

The idea for the alliance came from a Boulder couple in 2002, Thistle resource development manager Susan Andre said.
The couple, who wish to stay anonymous, sold their home and made a large profit on it, Andre said. The couple realized the same real estate market that had enabled them to make a large profit also hurt many others who could not afford to purchase homes. The couple donated $60,000 to Thistle.

"They sought us out, and we realized that there was potential for more people in the community to support," Andre said.
Thistle wanted to find more Boulder residents, businesses and foundations willing to contribute to affordable housing.
Affordable housing means the homes are restricted to residents who fall below certain income levels, Andre said.

The average income for a Thistle homeowner is $43,500 for a family of three. The average income for a Thistle homeowner is $43,500 for a family of three. This amount is 55 percent of the area median income.

The average income for those renting Thistle properties is even lower — $31,600 for a family of three, or 40 percent of the area median income.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development puts out the statistics for the area median income, Andre said. The current area median income for Boulder is $73,800.

In 2004, Thistle purchased the Mapleton Mobile Home Park at 2635 Mapleton Ave. This purchase included 135 home sites, 112 of those being permanently affordable, Bailhache said.

Thistle is working to rehabilitate the Mapleton site for residents by improving the roads and infrastructure.
"The previous owner had not kept it up," Andre said.
Thistle also recently completed the acquisition of 32 rental properties and six condominiums in the Uptown Broadway development.
The newest project for Thistle is Blue Vista in Longmont. This community will have 198 homes when completed, and 100 of those homes will be permanently affordable.

Home construction is expected to start soon at Blue Vista, Andre said.
The price of a one-bedroom condo in Blue Vista will be $80,000, and a four-bedroom, single-family home will sell for $170,000, Andre said.

The Blue Vista, Uptown Broadway and Mapleton properties, as well as 26 newly acquired apartments on Goss Street, will add more than 270 homes toward the alliance's goal of 1,000, Bailhache said.

Finding new developments to invest alliance funds in is an ongoing process.
"We are always looking for properties in the city of Boulder," Andre said.

Copyright 2005, The Daily Camera. All Rights Reserved.

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