Breckenridge and county leaders discuss income caps for modular home project near Summit County Justice Center

The project is a collaboration between the two entities and will have 54 units when it’s completed

Two modular homes are pictured Aug. 30 in Buena Vista. The homes were produced by Fading West Development, which is being contracted by the town of Breckenridge and Summit County to manufacture homes for a new development near the Summit County Justice Center.
Laurie Best/Coutesy photo

Summit County and the town of Breckenridge made a few decisions relating to the affordable modular home project, which is set to be developed near the Summit County Justice Center, during a joint meeting Tuesday, Feb. 22.

The project is one of many aimed at curbing the affordable housing shortage, and once completed in summer 2023, it’ll offer the community a mix of studios and one and two bedrooms for a total of 54 new units.

Though leaders have identified Fading West Development as the contractor to build the homes, there’s much to be determined about the project. The Breckenridge Town Council and Summit Board of County Commissioners met to discuss some of these items, including what kind of state funding they should go after to finance the project and how to make up for its lack of energy efficiencies.

The two entities also decided that each would get a mix of five units for their own staff.

State funding

Though the project is going to be financed 50-50 by the town of Breckenridge and Summit County, which is also providing the land, the county is pursuing grants through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to help supplement the financing. In total, the project is likely to cost close to $17 million.

Summit County Project Manager Dan Osborn listed off some of these grants, which include a $3 million grant and another $1.3 million to $1.6 million grant. The first grant is awarded only for projects that are capped at 80% area median income. According to the Summit Combined Housing Authority, this means a rental studio would be capped at $1,430. During the meeting, the two entities discussed whether they were OK with going after this kind of funding.

Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue was adamant that the project should be capped at a lower area median income, especially since the latest housing needs assessment done for the county showed this is where the greatest amount of need is found.

“I just think we have an opportunity to meet the needs of our housing needs assessment and also leverage more funds from the state while we’re doing it, so my preference is we build this development as much as possible at 80% (area median income) or lower,” Pogue said.

Others from the town weren’t so sure. Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula said getting awarded $3 million for a $17 million project was a small proportion. He said he’d like to commit the minimum number of units capped at this rate in order to get the funding. Others, like Breckenridge Town Council Member Erin Gigliello, worried about the cliff effect, where individuals no longer qualify for their housing or other benefits once they make more money but still struggle once those benefits are no longer afforded to them.

“It can be an issue if the family does well and our goal is always, if you get in, you do well in your job, and we don’t want anyone to not accept promotions because it’s going to kick them out of their housing,” she said. “You run into that situation when you have strict income caps.”

Ultimately, the county and town came to an agreement that funding from the Department of Local Affairs would be sought out and that a minimum number of units would be committed at this rate in order to obtain the grant. All leaders were in agreement that they needed to leverage as much of the state’s funding as possible.

Once this financing is in place, the team will have a better understanding of how the rest of the units will be divided up. It’s likely some could be capped at 100% area median income — or $1,682 for a rental studio — while other units could be capped around 50%, which is about $841 for a studio.

The other grant from the state would be used to add solar energy to the project.

Energy efficiencies

Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz said that because of the style of modular home Fading West builds, there’s not as many opportunities to make the project net zero energy. Both the town and county have sustainable building codes, and this project makes it difficult to meet that criteria.

Adding solar energy to the roof of the development, and possibly the roofs of the covered parking lot, will help make up the difference, but it’s still not where leaders want it to be.

Mamula suggested putting some solar infrastructure in the green spaces of the project, but Dietz said his team of consultants already looked into that and that the space is needed for snow storage. Breckenridge Town Council Member Kelly Owens asked about the possibility of adding infrastructure across the street, but that didn’t seem to be an option either. Eventually, Owens came up with a solution that most people were on board with.

“If we can’t do it in this location for this building to be net zero but this is a commitment we made, (then) we should put it on a building someplace to continue to meet the needs of solar in the town,” she said.

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