Summit Housing Authority helps build communities |

Summit Housing Authority helps build communities

BONNIE OSBORNspecial to the daily

On the surface, Ophir Mountain Village, the area just behind the County Community Center, looks very similar to other local neighborhoods in Summit County. There are basketball goals mounted on garages, well-worn kitty doors, rolled-up newspapers in driveways and kids of all ages playing in the streets. While the houses look similar, the people who live there reflect a mosaic of occupations as diverse as medical, retail industries, banks, CPA firms, Social Services, contractor companies, town and county governments, coaching, education and child care. The residents represent both blue collar and white collar workers all with various cultural backgrounds and political affiliations. After all, neighborhoods aren’t just about appearance, landscape and square footage. Rather neighborhoods are about the people who live there.The homeowners in Ophir Mountain Village share the same desire – to live in a local neighborhood that’s friendly, safe, child-welcoming, well-kept and surrounded by the beauty of Summit County. Each family wants a place to call home and to know the names and stories of their neighbors, trade child care duties and socialize at block parties throughout the year. The only thing unusual about these families is that nearly all of them won a lottery to purchase their home. That’s what makes buying a home in Summit County different. With the average home price at $417,000 – well above the buying ability of an average salaried Summit County family at $54,800 – locals have to resort to some interesting methods to purchase a home.That’s where the Summit Housing Authority steps in. Our goal is to build a stronger community by creating housing opportunities that help keep local families and individuals living here. We take pride in helping local families find established homes so they can better contribute to the community.Along with Ophir Mountain Village, other neighborhoods in the County made possible by the Summit Housing Authority, the towns and some high-minded developers include the Gibson Heights neighborhood, Soda Creek Town Homes, Wellington Neighborhood and Vista Point. In total, the Summit Housing Authority, its supporters and partner developers have contributed 214 affordable homes to the county. And in each of these neighborhoods a strong community spirit exists.As a not-for-profit organization, your Summit Housing Authority works on many programs designed to help keep locals living here. We have access to several low-interest funding sources for construction, development, planning and financing. We provide information to towns, the county, developers and the general public on housing needs and locations, proposed prices and ability of locals to obtain funding to participate in the home buying market. We provide down payment assistance at low interest to many home buyers. And we are often “at the table” with the towns, the County and developers to ensure that affordable housing needs are being addressed.While is all of this necessary? Because without neighborhoods like Ophir Mountain, we would be just a ski resort community catering to tourists and second homeowners, with our workforce commuting long distances to work. The Summit Housing Authority doesn’t give hand-outs. We give a hand-up to locals who need a little extra help to enter our higher-priced housing market. Happily when people move out of our affordable homes, it’s often to step up to a market-based, bigger home, creating an opportunity for another family to move into an affordably-priced home. It’s a positive cycle that betters our community. Our program help ensure that Summit County remains diverse, full of people who add to the fabric and value of this unique area. And that makes Summit County a better place to call home.

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