Summit Habitat for Humanity shifts focus to acquiring existing homes | SummitDaily.com

Summit Habitat for Humanity shifts focus to acquiring existing homes

Alli Langley
alangley@summitdaily.com
In this photo from October 2014, April Weber stands with three of her four children in front of her new home on Illinois Gulch Road in Breckenridge, the first home Summit Habitat for Humanity built in 10 years. The nonprofit has shifted its resources for 2015 from construction toward acquiring existing units in multi-family properties for families in need.
File photo |

SUMMIT HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

Anyone who thinks they or someone they know may qualify for housing through Summit Habitat for Humanity is encouraged to stop by the Restore, at 131 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne, to pick up an application.

Those interested in volunteering or donating to the organization can also stop by the Restore or contact exectuive director Ed Williams at (970) 423-7445 or executivedirector@summithabitat.org. To learn more, visit summithabitat.org.

Summit Habitat for Humanity is trying something new to tackle the community’s growing affordable housing problem.

The nonprofit chapter acquired three units in existing multi-family properties in the Dillon and Silverthorne area in the last few months, and the organization will use volunteers to renovate the homes, which will be sold with no-interest loans to families in need.

“As land prices continue to escalate here in Summit, it’s more of a challenge than ever before to find affordable land to build on,” said Ed Williams, the nonprofit’s executive director. “Having an existing property already in place really changes the landscape for timing. We’re not having to go after permits. We’re not having to worry about a short construction season. It just makes it so much more efficient for us to service these families.”

FIRST IN THE STATE

He said the approach is innovative for the local organization, which is challenged by a lack of foreclosed and condemned properties more commonly found in urban neighborhoods.

Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit working to breaking the cycle of poverty by eliminating substandard housing and homelessness. Traditionally, the organization uses volunteers to build homes for low-income people who are required to commit sweat equity to their home’s construction, future projects or other Habitat efforts.

The Habitat chapter in Summit is the only one in Colorado acquiring units in existing multi-family properties, renovating them and reselling them to families in need, said Stefka Fanchi, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Colorado.

In resort community markets, people often purchase lower-priced houses, condos and other housing units to use for their own vacations or for income as vacation rentals, she said. That’s why it’s even more important in places like Summit to ensure some of those properties are available and affordable for people working in the community.

Summit Habitat is funding the new approach by shifting resources from construction for 2015. In 2016, depending on market conditions, the organization will likely focus efforts on constructing new properties and acquiring existing ones.

“We continue to build and will be building in the future,” Williams said, but by adding this new strategy, “we can move forward in a much more aggressive way.”

A REVITALIZED NONPROFIT

Summit Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1995 and built three houses between 2000 and 2004.

After a long break in construction due to an inability to find appropriate land, Williams said, Summit Habitat completed its first new house in 10 years in October.

Then in March, the nonprofit announced its launch of A Brush With Kindness, a program that helps homeowners struggling with the financial cost of critical home repairs, such as weatherization, roof repair and handicapped accessibility.

Acquiring existing properties is the organization’s second new initiative since Williams became executive director this past winter and the nonprofit’s board gained some new members.

“The board is extremely committed to serving the families in need and is finding creative ways to make it happen,” he said.

Elected officials in Summit have recently focused on increasing the availability of affordable long-term rentals, which is important, he said, but few in Summit have been addressing the issue of affordable home ownership.

“Home ownership is quite a different animal when it comes to the way it impacts a community’s longevity,” he said. “It changes your connection to the community when you’re a homeowner. It creates a level of stability, and stability is important when sustaining a community.”

To find families for its homes, Summit Habitat works with municipalities, the Summit Combined Housing Authority, the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, local churches and the community at large. The nonprofit then chooses them based on their need, desire to partner with Habitat and ability to pay back the interest-free loan.

“It’s really a community-based program, so anyone in need can apply through Habitat for Humanity for placement or to become a partner family with us,” he said.


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