Summit Habitat for Humanity aims to build 10 homes in 5 years
KEYSTONE — Summit Habitat for Humanity is stepping up its game.
Since it was founded in 1987, the nonprofit has built one home every six to eight years. Executive Director April-Dawn Knudsen said Habitat’s new goal is to build 10 homes in the next five years.
Knudsen said the organization spent 2019 restructuring, connecting with other housing agencies and nonprofits and devising a new plan for the upcoming year.
“We’re not looking to recreate the wheel, we want to come alongside work that is already being done,” she said. “There’s a lot of good that’s happening in Summit County.”
The first of Summit Habitat’s 10 homes will be in Dillon Valley. The home will be built alongside the Dillon Valley Vistas workforce housing project, which includes six duplexes in addition to the Habitat home.
The Dillon Valley home will have three bedrooms with a mortgage that will not exceed $200,000 — half of the price of the deed-restricted Dillon Valley Vistas units.
Habitat homes are available to families that are legal, permanent residents of the U.S. who have lived or worked in Summit County for at least two years and make less than 80% of the area median income, which is $76,720 for a family of four.
The organization is working with the Summit Combined Housing Authority to help determine income qualification, Knudsen said.
“One of the reasons we like Habitat is their model allows them to offer housing to lower income levels and usually at much lower price points than the more traditional development models,” said Amy Priegel, executive director of the Summit County housing authority.
The organization also has a requirement that there are no more than two children of the same gender per bedroom. For the Dillon Valley home, that means the family cannot have more than six people.
Knudsen said the organization plans to have a family selected for the home before the holidays in 2021. Although the date is over a year away, families who might want the home should get started on the selection process as soon as possible.
Homeowners are selected on three criteria, Knudsen said. First, they have to demonstrate their ability to pay the mortgage on the house.
“We want to make sure that the person who is moving into this home can sustain that home long term,” she said. “We want to make sure that they have the financial education they need as well as the income that can sustain that home.”
Additionally, homeowners have to be willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity, which includes being willing to share their story and helping Habitat with advocacy efforts. The organization also requires homeowners to put in at least 200 hours of “sweat equity,” which includes helping the construction of the home and attending homeownership classes.
“These home are built with philanthropic dollars and the generosity from our community,” Knudsen said. “We want our homeowners to come alongside the community and build their home with us.”
The sweat equity requirement also helps homeowners know the ins and outs of their home, so when something breaks they know more about what needs to be done to fix it, Knudsen said.
The final criteria for homeowners is a demonstration of their need for adequate housing, Knudsen said.
The first step for homeowners who are interested in a Habitat home is to attend a homeowner orientation class. The classes will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 16 and Sept. 21 via Zoom. Those interested in attending the class can email Knudsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the homeowner orientation classes, Knudsen meets with the potential homeowners and sends them an application. Once the application is complete, the organization conducts interviews with the applicants.
Applicants who make it past the interview round will then have the Summit Combined Housing Authority do a needs assessment of their current living situation. From that assessment, the organization narrows down to three applicants and makes an offer to the applicant that has the most need for the home.
In addition to the Dillon Valley Vistas home, the organization is working on two other projects. In Fairplay, Habitat will build eight workforce housing units, which will be targeted towards teachers, police officers, first responders and municipal employees, Knudsen said.
“Fairplay and Alma are an artery to Summit County,” she said. “People who live in that community commute with the Summit Stage. They shop at City Market for groceries.”
The organization is also working on a home at the Berlin Placer affordable housing neighborhood outside of Breckenridge. For both of the projects the goal is to break ground sometime in 2021 and finish by 2026, Knudsen said.
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