COMMENTARY: What's the future for affordable housing in Lyons?
By Amy Reinholds
Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, which owns land at Park Street and Second Avenue in Lyons and will be building six permanently affordable homes, is also reaching out to the Lyons community to build a partnership of community organizations, officials, churches, and volunteers who want to bring affordable housing to Lyons.
Rebecca Shannon, outreach and volunteer manager for Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, is looking for interested participants in an alliance of organizations surrounding affordable housing in Lyons. Focus would of course include the six new Habitat homes on Park Street but would go beyond that, identifying other needs for the community, including various housing types, such as rentals.
At the January 23, meeting of the Lyons Human Services and Aging Commission, the Commissioners unanimously voted to participate with Habitat and the alliance, after hearing a short presentation from Shannon. In a related vote, the Commission also voted unanimously to recommend that the Lyons Board of Trustees (BOT) incorporate “Housing” into the name of the Commission and specifically mention housing in the mission statement for the Commission.
Shannon and Habitat for Humanity are seeking an alliance of existing government and community groups including Lyons Town government, the Lyons Community Foundation, Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund (LEAF), Lyons Chamber of Commerce, and business representatives (including larger employers in town), Lyons Volunteers, local churches, the Human Services and Aging Commission, individuals, and interested volunteers from previous Lyons housing recovery task forces and committees. Shannon also said she will be reaching out to providers of affordable housing in surrounding towns and counties.
Goals of the alliance would be to bring affordable housing to the Lyons community, empowering low-income families who were flood-displaced, or who live, work, or attend school in Lyons, with homeownership, to advocate for a variety of affordable housing options within the Lyons community, and to foster economic growth and diversity in the Lyons community.
Desired outcomes of the alliance include making safe, affordable, permanent homeownership attainable to low-income families who lost their housing in the Lyons flood, constructing the six Habitat for Humanity homes, paving the way for future land acquisition and other affordable home construction in Lyons, strengthening the overall Lyons economy through increased property and sales tax revenue, and building a community that understands the need for and the value of affordable housing in Lyons.
When the new Habitat for Humanity duplexes are constructed, Lyons will have six more homes toward those lost in the September 2013 flood. The Town of Lyons lost a total of about seventy flood-destroyed homes to both the federal buyout programs (including one buy out of a mobile home park expected to close soon) and to the changed use of a second mobile home park property to an event venue (rezoned for commercial use). In March 2015, a proposal for subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of fifty to seventy units) on five to seven acres of Bohn Park was voted down 614 to 498 by Town of Lyons voters in a special election.
The town has a total of twenty-six permanently affordable rentals (already in Lyons before the September 2013 flood) according to the Boulder County Housing and Human Services department: eight apartments at Bloomfield Place, twelve apartments at Walter Self Senior Housing, and six apartments at Mountain Gate.