The La Plata Economic Development Alliance (Alliance) Housing Catalyst Fund (Catalyst Fund) is a public private partnership to create seed funding to support below market housing development in La Plata County. The Catalyst Fund was initially funded by donations and grants, and administered by a group of community leaders and housing experts.

Catalyst Fund proceeds may be used for a variety of predevelopment costs, including but not limited to project feasibility studies, environmental studies, engineering, architectural, market studies, options, legal fees, soil studies, site preparation, appraisals, surveys, development consultants and other items associated with determining project feasibility.

One of the primary recommendations from the Economic Alliance Three-Year Housing Investment Strategy was the creation of a local predevelopment initiative to help housing projects move forward, take advantage of the significant funding opportunities under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and also to prepare for funding from Proposition 123 which is anticipated to be available in late summer of 2023. Predevelopment funding is the first funding for any project and is also the riskiest funding for an investor.

Eligibility & Selection Criteria for Funding

Eligible applicants include local non-profit organizations, corporations, private developers, and local public agencies. All recipients of the Catalyst Fund must show evidence that their proposed project will commit at least 25% of the units to below market/affordable housing if pursuing state funding and/or intends to preserve existing below-market housing. If providing units through other resources or programs, the applicant will tell the fund what % it can commit to.

“Below-market” is defined as housing that can be delivered to local community members at the following prices for local community members:

  • Rental housing that delivers new rental units that provide rents affordable to households earning less than 140% AMI
  • For-Sale housing that delivers affordable housing units available to households earning less than 160% AMI.

All affordability calculations will follow the HomesFund’s annual calculations for their loan fund and the current City’s Fair Share program. All rental affordability calculations will follow CHFA guidelines.

In addition, eligible applicants, their partners, and/or development team members must have experience with affordable/below-market housing and be able to demonstrate that the applicant has well-functioning and acceptable financial management systems and experience in managing real estate development.

If the applicant has no prior affordable housing development experience, the applicant must partner with an experienced co-developer or use a housing consultant with significant experience to meet the threshold for eligibility under the Catalyst Fund.

Definitions And Eligible Uses

Predevelopment: Predevelopment funding programs offer financing to support various development expenses incurred while determining the feasibility of a particular project. Examples of predevelopment costs include preliminary financial applications, legal fees, architectural and engineering fees, environmental studies, market studies, and other third-party studies that help to determine feasibility. See “Eligible Uses” below for the complete list.

Eligible Uses: Catalyst Fund proceeds may be used for a variety of predevelopment costs, including but not limited to

  • Project feasibility studies
  • Environmental studies
  • Engineering, architectural
  • Market studies
  • Options
  • Legal fees
  • Soil studies
  • Site preparation
  • Appraisals
  • Surveys
  • Development consultants
  • Other items associated with determining project feasibility

This program intends to support local efforts to build or preserve below-market housing, leverage predevelopment funds with state and/or federal funding, and create projects with at least 25% below-market units. As such, this application has threshold requirements listed below:

  • Do you have site control (i.e., a real estate contract, a lease option, or ownership)?
    • Must be able to provide proof of site control.
  • Do you anticipate applying for state or federal housing funds as part of your financial model?
  • Will 25% or more of the total proposed housing units be below market rate (defined as 160% AMI or less)?
  • If you answer “no” to any of the above questions, your project is not currently eligible for funding.

Required Application Materials & Examples:

Before starting your application, please make sure you have the following information available:

  • Project Narrative
  • Predevelopment Costs, including Catalyst Fund Requests and Applicant Match.
  • Development Costs including acquisition, site improvements, construction costs, professional services, etc.
  • Infrastructure Site Plan, if applicable

Selection process

Interested eligible applicants will submit an application with a proposed project and if selected, would receive an award letter, based on their proposed project size, to support project development. Selected projects would also receive up to 10 hours of technical assistance from a regional housing consultant and guidance from local public agencies on land use and development requirements. Applications will be reviewed and ranked using Readiness to Proceed as a primary factor which is a best practice in the housing field and a transparent way to select projects that may receive significant public investment.

When reviewing Readiness to Proceed, the following criteria will be used. Evidence of readiness to proceed must be submitted with the application.

  • Development is zoned for proposed development type, or a re-zone is feasible within 12 months.
  • Development site has infrastructure, water and sewer. (If the project does not have infrastructure, the application must include a cost estimate, timeline to obtain infrastructure, and strategy for public funding.
  • Proposed project owner is willing to partner and enter into a formal agreement to provide below-market lots, units or both.
  • Total costs for a home through this proposed project will result in below-market unit prices. This should be verified through the local HomesFund’s annual affordability analysis.
  • Development team has experience in development directly or through a consulting team and is in good standing with local governments and state funding agencies.
  • Proposed Project’s location is within a reasonable distance to services/amenities, based on proposed population to be served and anticipated future funding source requirements.
  • Proposed Project has local government support.

The Catalyst Fund Committee approves all funding guidelines, reviews applications to the fund, and approves funding allocations.

This committee is comprised of the following individuals:

Kent Curtis, CEO, First Southwest Bank
Eva Henson, Housing Innovation Program Manager, City of Durango
Mark Garcia, Town Manager, Town of Ignacio
Nicol Killian, Community Development Director, Town of Bayfield
Chris Lopez, Community Relationship Manager, CHFA
Adam Rogers, Director of Finance, La Plata County
Steve Short, Board of Trustees Member, Fort Lewis College
Pat Vaughn, Commercial Real Estate Consultant, Stultus LLC

Amounts and Terms

The Catalyst Fund awards will be in the form of a grant ranging from $25,000-$75,000. If awarded, grant agreements will require that applicants provide quarterly progress reports and report on the following:

  • Predevelopment activities completed
  • Results of feasibility studies
  • Changes on project concept
  • Updates to development timeline and approach
  • Final report on project feasibility and final unit count and anticipated costs of the project. If not feasible, lessons learned on factors limiting success of the actual development project for use by the Catalyst Fund Committee

How to Apply

  • Round 3 Open, March 25-May 3rd
  • The application has 11 sections. Applicants do not have to complete the entire form in one session and can save their progress and return it to the application before submission.
  • Applicants do not need a Gmail address to complete the form and upload portions of the application using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Questions relating to the Catalyst Fund may be directed to Sarah Schwartz, Housing Strategy Manager, (970-259-1700)

Durango Local News Network on Catalyst Fund Round 2

Durango Local News Network Reports: The City of Durango plans to contribute $250,000 to the Housing Catalyst Fund to support housing projects in La Plata County, building on previous grants.

City’s Seed Investment Pays Off

The City of Durango has commended the La Plata Economic Development Alliance for the successful implementation of its Housing Catalyst Fund, initially seeded with a generous $250,000 contribution.

Newsline: Catalyst Fund Round 2

Recently featured in The Durango Herald, we're proud to announce the second round of the Housing Catalyst Fund aimed at jumpstarting critical housing projects. The La Plata Economic Development Alliance is thrilled to share the latest update on our ongoing efforts to tackle housing challenges in La Plata County.

Press Release: Catalyst Fund Round 2

The Housing Catalyst Fund recently concluded its second round of funding, marking a significant step in addressing housing challenges in La Plata County. The Catalyst Fund aims to provide critical early-stage funding for feasibility studies, environmental assessments, and site preparation to facilitate workforce housing development. This round, which saw seven applications and three awarded grants, included support for preservation projects, underscoring the fund's versatility and impact. With over $933,000 raised, the Alliance remains committed to advancing workforce housing initiatives and fostering community resilience.