At the May 5 Lyons Board of Trustees meeting, the board passed two resolutions authorizing applications for grants that could fund 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) and $2.4 million of that was for housing. Other line items included public infrastructure, waterway restoration, 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.
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 Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) oversees distribution of Energy/Mineral Impact Grant funds. The resolution declares support of the application for the grant to pursue funding to hire a master developer and authorizes the town staff to advertise for a Request for Qualifications for a master developer.
As a prerequisite for the Town of Lyons requesting the $2.4 million for 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 team of 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 from the hired consultant team, 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 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) 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. This program is also known as the HMGP or 404 buy-out program. Applications for round 1 and 2 are due in July and August. The town and property owners will know by December whether Lyons receives any funds.
Finally, the Board of Trustees directed the volunteer HRTF to now focus on a role of public engagement. As the master planner 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.
The HRTF has been working for the last five months 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.
The previous board (before April's 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).
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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