Dawn Dickert could not stop grinning as she stood next to the forest-green door. A bright red ribbon stretched across the entrance to the new apartment building on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 5.
Cousins Kaleb — carrying the giant red scissors with pride — and Ellie were the first through the door, ready to explore, as Dickert’s sister Heather followed close behind.
Inside, up carpeted stairs still covered with protective plastic runners, the group was instantly taken aback by the modern kitchen with dark wood cabinets, hardwood floors and new appliances. The kids ran from room to room, opening every door — the laundry room with washer and dyer, the tiled bathrooms and even out to the porch just for their unit with a view of the mountains.
As property manager Cindy Selle handed over the keys, Dickert said she was still in awe of the amount of space in the brand-new apartment.
Villa Sierra Madre II is the newest affordable housing complex in Silverthorne, providing low-cost apartments for people in the community who make less than the town’s average income.
The project began in May last year, with eight buildings totaling 64 units of one, two and three bedrooms. The apartments are available for people making at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). Certain units are designated as 40, 50 and 60 percent AMI, so there is a limited number of each.
Archdiocesan Housing, which also built the original Villa Sierra Madre in Silverthorne, provides affordable, service-enriched housing for individuals and families who cannot access decent housing in the broader market place. Villa Sierra Madre II is located near Adams Avenue and 11th Street in Silverthorne.
Dickert is moving into the project’s first completed building. Selle anticipates a second building being completed by mid-February, and the third by the end of the month. The whole project is set to be finished at the end of May, one year after it began.
“I’m so excited,” Selle said. “My favorite part of my job is giving somebody a home that’s nice, and affordable.”
There is already a waiting list with more than 100 people, Selle said. She said they fill the apartments in the order they receive applications, but it also depends on which AMI bracket people fall into. For example, a lot of people applied in the 40 percent bracket and are on the waiting list for those units, but the majority of the units are 50 percent, Selle said.
The application process has to begin early, she said, because employers have to verify an applicant’s yearly income.
“The process can be pretty long, depending on how fast an employer gets back to us,” she said. “Once an outside party reviews the files to make sure they are accurate, only then can we call and tell someone they were approved.”
The application states that people must have “sufficient, verifiable income to pay rent and are required to have monthly income that is three times the monthly rent amount of the unit they would occupy.” However, applicants may have two times the monthly rent amount if it can be verified that they have paid a like amount of rent at another property, at the same income amount, for a period of one year with no late payments.
For example, to qualify at 40 percent AMI for a two-bedroom apartment, with three people in the household, applicants must make $32,720 annually or less. That two-bedroom would then cost the family $675 per month in rent. The costs range from $550 per month for a one bedroom at the lowest AMI, to $1,100 per month for a three bedroom at 60 percent AMI.
The Villa Sierra Madre II units start with a one-year lease, then move to month-to-month. Usually, Selle said, there is not much turnover. She still has original residents from 1994 in the first Villa Sierra Madre.
“There’s a great sense of community here,” she said. “It’s brand-new housing, but people can afford it. That’s important.”