FACT SHEET: Lyons Board of Trustees decisions and housing recovery funding
At a May 5, 2014, Lyons Board of Trustees meeting, the board passed two resolutions authorizing applications for grants for funding early phases of the replacement housing process, and the board directed town staff and the volunteer Housing Recovery Task Force (HRTF) about next steps for housing recovery.
The trustees passed Resolution 2014-40 Authorizing Submittal of CDGB-DR Application: First Round, which included the “express wish” of the Lyons Board of Trustees to pursue funding of $6.8 million in the first round of the Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). Line items included public infrastructure, waterway restoration, housing, and other recovery costs that the town was eligible for the first round. The State of Colorado is distributing a total of $62.8 million of federal disaster recovery block grants in the first round. The second round later this year will include $199 million to distribute to communities recovering from the 2013 flooding. UPDATE August 2014: The Town of Lyons was able to secure CDBG-DR funding of $45,000, administered by The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), for the Housing Site Analysis Study for the town-owned parcels identified by the Board of Trustees. Town staff is currently working on the Request for Proposals for that study which will be managed by the new Lyons Housing Project Manager. The Town of Lyons also received approval from the state for the first round of CDBG-DR funds for $1 million for property acquisitions. These CDBG-DR funds will be applied for if properties don't qualify for the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) 404 waivers (substantially damaged or total property value less than $276,000), or if the properties might need additional surface improvements that are not allowed in the 404 program (such as a paved road). Residential properties are acquired at pre-flood values. The town of Lyons is still negotiating with the state on the mobile home parks (considered commercial properties) and whether they can be acquired at pre-flood or post-flood values. In addition, Boulder County also secured CDBG-DR funding on behalf of the Town of Lyons for $58,000 for the final round of mobile home demolition and removal (the Longmont Community Foundation gave the Town of Lyons $57,000 for the first round). CDBG-DR funds are primarily reimbursement funds. The town will ask for reimbursement after the money is spent.
The trustees also passed Resolution 2014-37 Authorizing a Funding Request to the Department of Local Affairs to Pursue an Administrative Grant for Housing Assistance and to Authorize a Request for Qualifications for a Master Developer. The Colorado DOLA oversees distribution of Energy/Mineral Impact Grant funds. The DOLA funds will pay for a Housing Project Manager position, which is expected to get official approval by mid August. Then the town can then proceed with the hiring process. The Housing Project Manager will work directly for the town and manage all housing recovery activities, including working with consultants for pre-development analysis of town-owned parcels, working with a public engagement specialist and plan, and eventually a hired master developer. The Housing Project Manager will manage the Master Developer team, which will likely be funded by CDBG-DR, if funds are necessary.
As a prerequisite for the Town of Lyons requesting the first round of the CDBG-DR funds, the town needed to have parcels under control. After the grants are distributed, whatever amount Lyons is granted for housing recovery must be spent within 2 years, or it is lost. The board directed the town staff to hire a Housing Project Manager and professional consultants to conduct the necessary detailed pre-development analysis of parcels. The trustees voted to select parcels for the analysis that are currently owned by the town, focusing on the current dog park, the parcel south of the dog park, and other parts of Bohn Park that are not in the floodplain. The St. Vrain Valley School District-owned parcel where the ball fields are currently located was also listed as a possibility for a swap with other town-owned parcels. Several trustees expressed the need to have all of these parcels included in the analysis, in order to find the best options for locations of possible replacement housing with minimal impacts on surrounding neighborhoods, also considering road access.
In addition to the second round of CDBG-DR funds that was mentioned, other future potential funding is available through the FEMA HMGP or 404 buy-out program, where property owners voluntarily agree to sell their flood-damaged properties in the floodplain and floodway at pre-event market value for the purpose of maintaining the property in public ownership as open space or public parks. Applications for round 1 and 2 are due in July and August. The town and property owners are expected to know by December whether Lyons receives any of these HMGP/404 funds.
Finally, the Board of Trustees directed the volunteer HRTF to now focus on a role of public engagement. As the Housing Project Manager and consultant team that is hired begins analysis, the HRTF can assist those groups and the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) and other town boards with focus groups and open houses. This process would increase public input and ensure that the views of local neighborhood residents, displaced residents, and those who are considering the HMGP (or 404) buy-out program are made known to all groups involved in housing decisions. The HRTF decided to meet twice a month, on the first and third Tuesdays. The town hall location and start time of 6 p.m. remain the same.
At a July 21, 2014, meeting, the Board of Trustees authorized town staff to pursue funding to hire a Public Engagement Specialist to coordinate activities that will engage the public about new recovery housing. A College of Architecture and Planning graduate class at the University of Colorado Denver taught by Carrie Makarewicz and Andrew Rumbach advised the HRTF and the board about a public engagement plan that could help Lyons get a complete, accurate view of what the community thinks about new recovery housing. The CU Denver class recommended that a Public Engagement Specialist can coordinate a housing recovery public engagement plan that addresses the following goals: • Educating residents on problems, alternatives, opportunities, and solutions. • Limiting rumors by using a transparent process. • Encouraging and using creative ideas from community members. • Limiting negative impacts by hearing concerns and finding solutions. • Building energy and excitement for bringing displaced residents back home. • Ensuring that community residents feel that their voices have been heard. The CU Denver graduate class will present their Lyons Housing Redevelopment Engagement and Visioning Plan at the Board of Trustees workshop on 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday Sept. 2 at Town Hall.
The HRTF began working in December 2013 to identify potential properties that could be redeveloped as replacement housing with the goal of providing all pre-flood Lyons residents with viable housing options within the town limits. Because of the income levels of many of the hardest-hit areas, the Boulder County Housing Authority has been assisting the HRTF in parcel analysis, planning questions, and a housing needs survey. The HRTF held an open house in March and also held panel discussions in April with area private sector and public sector housing experts.
A housing needs assessment in February 2014 found that 145 households are still displaced, and 115 want to return. About 68% of still-displaced households earn less than 60% of the area median income (AMI) for Boulder County, or below $46,140 for a 2-person household. A 2-person household would need to earn about $125,000 per year, or about 160% of the AMI to afford the average market priced home for sale in Lyons ($513,470 as of January). Before the flood, about 26% of Lyons households were paying more than 30% of their income for housing costs (both renters and owners), which is considered housing-cost-burdened. After the flood, that percentage has increased to 36% of Lyons households. You can view the full report here.
The previous board (before the April 2014 election) assigned the following two objectives from the Lyons Recovery Action Plan to the HRTF as responsible party:
HOU 1.3.1: Encourage the development/construction of housing that is affordable by: a) virtue of the lot size, regulatory incentives, construction methodology and material usage, density; b) the use of financial subsidies and volunteer organizations. (The board also assigned the following key partners to assist the HRTF: PCDC and Lyons Volunteers.)
HOU 1.3.2: Encourage the development/construction of manufactured housing (including prefabricated, modular, and mobile homes).
Other Housing Recovery Task Force News
Immediate Housing Needs:
The needs assessment shows that many Lyons residents are now housing cost-burdened after the flood, especially still-displaced residents. For people paying high monthly housing costs (either rent or mortgage) after the flood, there are funds in addition to FEMA money previously received. This relief provides cost-burdened Lyons residents an option to avoid spending savings that might be used for future down payments and to avoid falling into debt because of the flood.
Call 720-564-2279 to leave a message and schedule an appointment with Becky Thelen at the Boulder County Housing Counseling Program. You also can contact Joycelyn Fankhouser at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. This link describes information to bring with you when you go to a meeting.
This counseling and housing assistance is for both renters and owners, and anyone with housing cost burden, not just those facing foreclosures. There will be a financial counselor representative at the March 8 Housing Recovery public meeting to give information and schedule future appointments.
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