RURAL HOMES: For Sale, For Locals

  • Published
  • On June 10, 2021
Volunteers building homes

Rural Homes: For Sale, For Locals, the Foundation’s initiative to build attainable workforce housing, is developing four projects on sites in Nucla, Norwood, Ridgway, and Ouray. This housing pilot tests an approach to build affordably without the traditional means of subsidizing a capital stack, including low-income housing tax credits, new market tax credits, or voucher programs. Rather, our strategy is to attack the major costs of construction – land, capital, and building. We hope to refine an approach that could be replicated across many other rural communities.

The program starts with a land partner to champion the project and provide a (minimum) 2.5 acre, flat, infill site that can be serviced by municipal infrastructure. Such partners could include school districts, towns, counties, or private land holders. Unlike Telluride, which is topographically land-locked, much of the rural West has abundant open land within town limits. The underlying principle behind site selection is to be able to develop the site efficiently and minimize the cost of land development.

The price of the home is driven down by the (1) efficiency of advancements in digital design and prefabricated assembly and (2) our collaboration with a professional homebuilder with expertise in every step of the development process. Simple Homes, a panelized construction company based in Denver, is our framing contractor, assembling all walls, roofs, and floors in their facility in Denver and shipping those components as flat panels out to the Western Slope, where they can be assembled volumetrically into the shell of a house in less than a day. A local team of subcontractors will prep the site and connect civil infrastructure before the homes arrive, and other teams of subcontractors will build out the finishes on the homes once they are framed. These local crews will be orchestrated by Stryker & CO, a commercial contractor based out of Montrose. The CEO of McStain Neighborhoods is the master project manager for the Rural Homes team on the ground.

Since January, the initiative has raised almost $3.5M from Colorado Foundations, including Colorado Health Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Caring for Colorado, Donnell Kay, Dakota Foundation, and Boettcher Foundation, into a revolving construction loan fund. The loan fund will be the source of construction draws and will replenish with the revenue from home sales. Rural Homes is continuing to solicit participation in the revolving fund.

Once built, the homes will be deed restricted with an income restriction, a live-work (9 months/year), and a fixed home-value appreciation in order to ensure home prices remain within the target market for the long run. As we work through schematic site planning, we are exploring avenues to build all-electric homes, heated and cooled with heat pumps. Construction could begin in the fall of 2021.