More affordable housing planned


ALAMOSA — Alamosa City Council this week approved a plat providing 48 more affordable home sites in Montaña Azul Estates on south Craft Drive.

The city planning commission had also recommended approval.

Alamosa Public Works Director Pat Steenburg reminded the council that the city’s comprehensive plan identified the need for more affordable housing, and applicant Colorado Rural Housing and Development Corporation (CRHDC) would not be asking for more home sites if it did not believe it could fill them.

CRHDC Program Director Scott Wilson said the self-help program, through which these homes will be constructed, helps meet the affordable housing crisis that exists in the area, state and nation. This program in Alamosa is responsible for constructing 12-14 affordable homes each year, he said.

Al Gold, who has been with CRHDC for many years, added that during the more than 30 years the program has operated in the San Luis Valley, it has been responsible for constructing more than 250 homes in Alamosa alone and contributing more than $38 million to the local economy. CRHDC has taken vacant land and put it on the tax rolls, Gold added.

“It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up we are providing,” Gold said. Homeowners contribute more than 1,100 hours towards constructing the homes in their group through “sweat equity,” he added.

“They have a loan. They pay for it,” he said.

“We are very pleased to have this program here in Alamosa and across the San Luis Valley,” Gold said.

Councilman Charles Griego commended CRHDC and Al Gold specifically for taking an area of town that had been a dumping site for trash and debris and cleaning it up for home sites so folks could realize the dream of homeownership.

He said one thing the area lacks, however, is a park for the children. He suggested using drainage areas for park space.

City Manager Heather Brooks said Griego’s comment was very much in line with the comprehensive plan update, which pointed out that while Alamosa has a fair number of parks for a city this size, one area that is lacking park space is this one. City staff hopes to include a park for this area in capital improvement funding, she added. She said since the storm drainage is dedicated to the city, the city owns that property. City staff members are trying to figure a creative way to use that space for drainage and recreational space.

“I think that tool is in place,” Steenburg said. “It just hasn’t been used in the past.”

Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero said a recreational area for the children in the neighborhood would be important.

Addressing a concern about the number of homes planned for the lots, Steenburg said when this subdivision was initially approved in 2003, it created a commercial business zone north of Tremont and residential high south of Tremont. Residential high is the least restrictive residential zoning and permits single-family homes (which is what is proposed), townhomes and multi-unit dwellings.

Steenburg said the proposed lot sizes for this phase average 8,400 square feet, more than meeting the 7,000 square feet required in the city ordinance. Other towns allow smaller lot sizes: Salida, 5,600 square feet; La Junta, 6,000 square feet; and Gunnison 6,500 square feet. Pagosa Springs’ requirement is 7,500 square feet.

Councilman Michael Stefano said he knew families who had been involved in building these homes, and it was exciting to see them become homeowners. He agreed with Griego that recreational space is needed in this area.

Councilor Kristina Daniel said she appreciated the affordable housing created in Alamosa.

“I am really excited about the potential for this project,” she said.

Caption: Another house is taking shape in Montaña Azul Estates on south Craft Drive in Alamosa. The Alamosa city council this week approved a plat for additional affordable housing units. Courier photo by Ruth Heide