Durango Telegraph - City takes stab at housing crunch
City takes stab at housing crunch

The Regional Housing Alliance is not the only local entity making strides toward more affordable living for local residents.

Keeping good on last spring’s campaign promises, the Durango City Council is currently working on its own draft of an affordable housing policy, which is expected to see the light of day before the year is out.

“My hunch is we’ll have a policy on affordable housing by the end of the year,” said City Councilor Michael Rendon. “It’s moving along, we just want to make sure the RHA is in place before we move ahead.”

Rendon said the RHA is vital to the policy since it will be the entity responsible for carrying out the plan.

Rendon said the city is especially interested in the ideas of fair share housing, also known as inclusionary zoning; a land bank whereby the city would help offset the cost of land for developers of affordable housing; and the “shared equity” model for deed restrictions.

“We are trying to make a variety of things available,” he said. “The trick is trying to find a balance to make it work. None of these models are perfect.”

For example, with inclusionary zoning, developers are often given incentives

in the form of a streamlined approval process or increased density in order to offset the costs of affordable housing.

Likewise, with deed-restricted housing, limits must be placed on how much people can reap from their investment. “We don’t want to keep poor people poor, but at the same time, we don’t want them to turn around and sell a $200,000 house for $350,000, because then it’s no longer affordable,” Rendon said.

This is where the shared equity model comes in, whereby profits are split between the owner and RHA. The RHA then has first rights to re-invest that money into defraying the cost of that home.

Meanwhile, as the city hammers out the details to be presented to the community for approval, he said steps have already been taken in the affordable housing direction with the recently approved North Animas Village. Located at the site of the Iron Horse Inn, 1 percent of each home sale or future resale at North Animas Valley will go to the RHA.

“This is going to create a huge chunk of money for the homebuyer assistance program,” he said. “It’s exciting to think about the possibilities.”

– Missy Votel