MISSION: The Chaffee Housing Trust is committed to promoting responsible community development by providing affordable and sustainable home ownership and rentals to qualifying residents.

VISION: All Chaffee County Residents and workers can choose to live in homes they own, and work in the community with the full benefits and responsibilities of participation in the social, economic, and political fabric.

VALUES: When full equity in home ownership can’t be realized for low and moderate income households, shared equity should be attainable in an affordable and sustainable manner, providing additional rungs at the bottom end of the ladder to the American Dream.

GOALS (in order of priority):
1. Provide affordable home ownership and rental opportunities to individuals, families and households earning 80% of Area Median Income or less.
2. Provide affordable home ownership and rental opportunities to individuals, families and households earning 60% of Area Median Income or less.
3. Provide a mix of affordable home ownership and rentals to individuals, families and households earning up to 120% of Area Median Income.

      The Chaffee Housing Trust (CHT) provides affordable home ownership and rentals to qualified Chaffee County residents who have lived or worked in the County for at least one year. The CHT stewards the recruitment, education, readiness, and long-term support of qualified buyers. They must earn less than 80% of Area Median Income ($46,000/year for a household of three people). The CHT builds or buys affordable homes by bringing grants, donations, and other funds to bear at the initial construction or acquisition of each home. This one-time injection of financial support stays with the home in perpetuity as the community’s share of equity. This subsidy is never lost at sale; it stays with the home. The family owns the home and all the improvements, but the CHT retains title to the underlying land. A land-lease allows for the unfettered use and control of the home by the owners, including the ability to pass it on to their heirs. If and when they want to sell, the lease contains language that stipulates that it be sold at a price affordable to the next low-income family. There is no need for additional funds to keep the price low at each future sale. There is a resale formula that determines how much profit the seller gets: 25% of market-based appreciation. The remaining 75% stays with the homes. The new sales price will be the original price plus the 25% appreciation. The seller should then have accumulated enough equity to be able to afford a down payment on a market-rate home. This critical outcome means instead of paying rent (and somebody else’s mortgage), low-income families can begin to create family wealth through equity building. Historically, this has been the primary means for families to create financial security and a leg up on the ladder to the American Dream.

      This is a fiscally conservative tool that is essential keeping homes affordable in perpetuity. Funds injected have an everlasting impact. Each home that is established as affordable stays that way forever. Grants and other support have a lasting effect for generations to come. Each home that is added to the CHT inventory will continue to be a community asset, never expiring. What other investment in community has such a long-lasting effect?

THE NEED: The 2016 Chaffee Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) clearly details a well-known problem: Housing is not affordable to many residents, including workforce critical to the local economy. Of the households earning less than $35,000 per year (51% of total population in the year 2000), one third have left the county, replaced by newly arrived high-income residents. These low-wage local workers are the engine of the tourism economy, Chaffee County’s primary economic driver. Many employers are not able to find workers needed for current business activity, never mind looking forward. As a former County Commissioner joked, “The one thing you can’t buy in Chaffee County is a ‘Help Wanted’ sign because they’re sold out. Every business has one in the window.”
According to the HNA, there are 2,400 cost-burdened households (30% of total) in the County who pay more than they can afford (defined as spending more than 30% of their gross monthly income on housing). Currently, the average home sale price is $398,000 in Salida and $346,000 in Buena Vista. The income required to afford a $350,000 mortgage is $75,000/year, which is 130% of Area Median Income (AMI). A three-person household earning less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) can only afford a mortgage of $199,000 or less ($46,000/year gross income, 30% towards housing costs, 30-year mortgage at 4% interest rate, $200/mo. escrow). As interest rates rise, affordability will become further out of reach.
      A primary factor in the housing crisis is the lack of available housing stock, driving up prices due to extremely high demand. Low-income residents are priced out and can’t compete with buyers coming in from outside Chaffee County. 
      One third of Chaffee County workers commute from outside the county due to lack of available housing, increasing their cost of living as well as lengthening their work day. The local economy suffers when workers live elsewhere, and don’t spend their earnings locally. The community suffers when people we know and work with are forced to live elsewhere. Family disruptions from commuting take a social toll. Employers are scrambling for housing, as new hires can’t find a place to live and choose not to take positions. Numerous businesses cite having workers living out of their cars, or piled into trailers away from town. The HNA states clearly that economic growth in Chaffee County cannot happen until more housing is available.

POPULATION SERVED: In 2018, the Chaffee Housing Trust will build eight homes in the Two Rivers development for households earning less than 80% AMI. Three of these homes will be for ownership and five will be rentals. The market value of the homes will be approximately $200,000. Through grants and donations, Chaffee Housing Trust will lower the sales price of these homes by $30,000 to $40,000, making them affordable to households earning 70% AMI. Without these subsidies, households in this income range are forced to rent, preventing them from being able to build equity from their home. Additionally, they face the insecurity of potential rent increases and eviction when their leases expire. There are also social and economic trickle down effects to be considered. Except for mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, HOA fees, and lease/rent payments, families do not pay for services.

IMPACT: This precedent-setting effort is uniquely poised to provide affordable housing to low-income households priced out of the market at a scale commensurate with the problem. This project will serve as a model for future efforts. Thanks to the CHT’s long-term stewardship, the benefits will be multi-generational as low-income families cycle through over time as owners and renters. Renters can take advantage of program services, financial education, and mortgage application assistance to eventually become owners. This impact will be measured by the financial equity that each family builds, and the availability of homes to low-income households. Homeowner and renter satisfaction will be surveyed annually. There will be an indirect impact on local businesses through employee stability and longevity, as well as on the social fabric of our economically diverse community by retaining residents who may otherwise be forced to leave.

      The CHT has been advocating for affordable housing in Chaffee County since 2008, including providing presentations, charrettes, and workshops, direct involvement in the creation and leadership of the Housing Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC), the creation or amendment of housing policy in local jurisdictions, and fund-raising for housing efforts that have county-wide impact beyond the CHT’s direct interests.

Contact us at info@chaffeehousing.org and 719-239-1199
PO Box 692, Buena Vista, CO 81211