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Dolores awarded grant to study affordable housing

Affordable housing in small towns like Dolores is difficult to find. (Journal file photo)
Town Board is looking for ways to address housing costs

The town of Dolores recently was awarded a state grant for an affordable-housing study.

A $20,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs will be used for the Attainable Housing project. The town is providing a $10,000 match.

Dolores is looking to address a housing crisis. As housing prices climb, access to affordable homes for average salaried workers becomes more of a problem in small communities in Southwest Colorado.

Dolores is considering an affordable housing model created by the Telluride Foundation that focuses on needs of rural communities, not resort towns.

The organization has affordable-housing projects in Nucla, Norwood, Ridgway and Ouray, which target average-income career workers.

“Teachers, sheriff deputies, town planners – people at the core of the community making good salaries – are faced with a housing market that is two to three times their salary level,” said Telluride Foundation President Paul Major in a recent presentation to the Town Board.

For example, an affordable home for a teacher in Dolores, who makes an average salary of $39,566 a year, would be about $217,000. But the median home sales price in Dolores in 2021 was $385,000.

Major said the key components for affordable-housing projects that fit smaller towns are donated land suitable for construction, factory-built homes to reduce construction costs, low-cost loan programs and deed restrictions that include preventing resale at market value.

The foundation has modest, single-family homes built in a factory, which are delivered to the towns and set on foundations.

The two-story, lumber-framed homes are 1,200 to 1,500 square feet, with three bedrooms, three baths and a garage. One such manufactured home factory is Fading West in Buena Vista.

Homes built in a factory keep the price down, Major said.

Land donation also is a key component of affordable housing.

For the Telluride Foundation project in Nucla, the plan is for the school district to donate land. In Norwood, San Miguel County would donate land, and an individual has offered land in Ridgway.

The town owns several properties that have the potential for affordable housing projects.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com