FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1, 2024
LA PLATA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE COMPLETES SECOND ROUND OF HOUINSG CATALYST FUND GRANTS
$195,132 in Grants Help propel Local Workforce Housing Projects Forward
DURANGO, CO — The La Plata Economic Development Alliance (Alliance) Housing Catalyst Fund Committee and Working Group completed the second round of funding for housing projects this winter. The Catalyst Fund is a predevelopment initiative created by the Alliance and its consultant team, Project Moxie, to identify potential housing projects throughout the County.
The design of this pre-development program is that a small amount of funding can leverage significant resources by assisting a project with early feasibility. Grants help to provide funding for eligible activities including feasibility studies, environmental studies, site preparation, market studies, surveys, and legal fees. These early-stage costs are critical to determining project feasibility yet are often underfunded or not funded at all, creating a roadblock that prevents projects from getting underway. Understanding the need and risk for this type of initiative has led the Alliance to pilot a fund that balances these dynamics and produces a pipeline of below-market housing units in our community.
The Catalyst Fund received seven applications for the second round and awarded grants to three area projects to cover the costs of predevelopment activities during the early stages of workforce housing development projects throughout the county. In round two, the Catalyst Fund allowed for preservation projects as well, and two of the three supported projects are related to Mobile Home Park Preservation. This second round of funding is focused on projects that will be applying for state resources within the next 12 months.
“In 2023, our RHA members collectively pursued over $16 million in grants from various sources and received almost $5 million, all directed toward expanding workforce housing in the area. While three of the four local governments received grants, the funding gap was left at more than $11 million. Our area workforce housing projects need financial support, and we are unable to fill the gap needed from state funding and resources,” said the Regional Housing Alliance of La Plata County Chair Pat Vaughn.
The Catalyst Fund was a key recommendation that emerged from the 3-Year Workforce Housing Investment Strategy commissioned by the Alliance and published last year in partnership with a team of housing consultants. To date, the Fund has raised $933,000, and the Alliance anticipates that a third round will start in March 2024.
“As we complete Round 2 of the Housing Catalyst Fund, we are already planning for future rounds and how we can raise those much-needed funds to continue providing cost reduction to workforce housing,” explained Michael French, the Alliance executive director. “Catalyst Fund recipients are not only receiving pre-development funding but are now part of a network of housing and community leaders that are committed to fast-tracking and supporting these critical workforce housing projects throughout La Plata County.”
Three projects were awarded grants from the second round of Catalyst Fund are located in Durango and include Animas View Mobile Home Park Co-op, Workforce Apartments at Three Springs, and Westside/Triangle Mobile Home Park. These housing projects feature a mix of
rental and mobile home park preservation projects.
“Animas View MHP Co-op is excited to have received a Catalyst Fund Grant to help pay for the engineering for our water/sewer/road infrastructure replacement project,” said Lindie Hunt, Animas View Treasurer. “The co-op is challenged to raise funds to replace our antiquated system while keeping our lot rents affordable for workforce housing and retired or disabled residents. Funding for this type of project is desperately needed for many of the manufactured home parks in La Plata County.”
Eligible applicants of the Catalyst Fund using state and federal subsidies must commit to providing at least 25% of available units as below-market, and funding allocations will be prioritized based on a project’s readiness to proceed. If the applicant is using private or local funds for the proposed project, they must describe how many units can be set aside as belowmarket. Below-market is defined as housing that can be delivered to local community members at the following prices:
- Rental housing that delivers new rental units that provide rents affordable to households earning less than 140% AMI and 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 AMI chart/gao calculations for their loan fund and the City of Durango’s Fair Share program.
Because not all households in the county are the same size or have the same need, the Area Median Income (AMI) accounts for the typical income in this housing market and compares needs across this region. AMI is a standard measurement for affordability used in the housing industry.
The Housing Catalyst Fund was financially seeded by a combination of grants that include the City of Durango and La Plata County. The Alliance plans to open a third round of funding in March 2024 and award projects by April. Complete criteria, details about how to apply as well as the recorded Catalyst Fund Q&A webinar are available on the Alliance website.
About the Alliance
The La Plata Economic Development Alliance is a 501(C)6 organization whose mission is to create a vibrant and resilient economy from the recruitment, retainment, and growth of business, by fostering public and private partnerships and preserving our quality of life. The three primary strategies of the Alliance are workforce housing, workforce development, and enabling business capacity and growth. More information is at yeslpc.com.