Last month we reported on the completion of the unique housing project in Kit Carson where five homes were placed in two separate locations within the Town of Kit Carson. That project netted 5 new homes in Kit Carson. Now in Eads there will be 10 new housing units available to buy or sell in the next month, according to Stephanie Gonzales, housing coordinator and director of Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development (SECED).
Those five particular homes installed in Kit Carson in early February came from a unique new building technique from Fading West Homes out of Buena Vista. The homes included pre-built boxes with onsite prep happening as they were constructed, reducing project timelines. And their construction team provided complete installation services when the separate parts of the homes were delivered and put together—literally like Lego blocks. According to project developer and Kit Carson Rural Development (KCRD) Director Amy Johnson, the five homes are now ready to sell or rent. They include four 1,216 square feet homes (3 BR, 3 Bath) located at 400 Main Street, 500 Park Street, 502 Park Street, and 202 West 5th Street. One other home available, a larger home with handicapped accessibility, is 1,600 square feet (3 BR, 3 Bath) located at 402 Main Street. Johnson indicates that the houses will rent for $750, does not include utilities, and the homes will sell anywhere from $250,000 or under for the smaller homes, or $275,000 for the larger home. All property access is income based. To see if you qualify contact Johnson at KCRD. They have a Facebook page and a website.
While Kit Carson was solving at least some of their housing issues, Eads too has been involved in two separate housing projects that are finally—after a long time of waiting and wondering—about to be completed. There is some confusion as to who is actually building and offering these homes as part of two separate housing projects. That answer is Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development (SECED). They are an area-wide economic development organization that is funded, in part, by the state and is assigned the task of increasing economic development within the southeastern Colorado corner of the state. SECED is led by a board of local residents and community leaders who hires the SECED Director. Stephanie Gonzales is that director who has been working on solving the common housing crisis present in every town in southeastern Colorado.
The first housing project in Eads began about 5-6 years ago when land was donated by the Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation (KCEDF) at the corner of Cactus Corner and Prairie Place for an affordable housing project that would build three duplexes—that’s six homes. SECED took charge of the project and with the land donation from the KCEDF the state approved the project and agreed to fund the balance. Then started several years of waiting for the State of Colorado to actually provide the money so the building project could begin. Gonzales indicated that right before the money was to arrive COVID hit and for two years the State of Colorado didn’t do any work and the project and money were put on the backburner. Finally, after the pandemic the money arrived, but because of the terrible inflation that plagued the country the original amount of money would only build two units and the basement and foundation of the third duplex. But there wasn’t enough of the original fund to actually build the planned third duplex.
Gonzales said, “We began building the two duplexes—four units—and then had to argue with the state about getting enough money to build the planned third duplex—two more units. We pushed our case forward when we went ahead and poured the foundation for the third duplex. As of today, the two duplexes are near completion and the state has agreed to pay for the third duplex.”
The two duplexes still have just a bit to go, according to Gonzales, as they are still hooking up the sewer system to the town system and getting a Certificate of Occupancy. The contractor, Emerald Managing Services out of Colorado Springs, is still required to complete work on the outside of the units as well—including leveling the area around the duplexes prepping them for lawns and landscaping.
All four of the completed units will be filled with renters. When the third duplex—2 housing units—is completed it will also be rented out. SECED will be the property manager for the three duplexes. Renting is based on Average Median Income (AMI) that is very reasonable for this area. For instance, a family of four can get into one of the three-bedroom, two-bath homes if they make $62,000 or less.
The second housing project in Eads began last year and was developed to build Workforce Housing in not only Eads but also in Onley Springs, Wiley, La Junta, Lamar, Las Animas, Granada, Walsh, and Springfield. This is housing that does not require a certain AMI level and anyone can get in there and rent and/or buy the duplexes and homes. Overall, there were over 70 houses and duplex units built across these communities as part of the Workforce Housing project. As we reported many times in the past, the catalyst and affordability of such a project came from the American Recovery Act funds given by all the government entities, including the Kiowa County Commissioners and Town of Eads, and taking advantage of the economy of scale in purchasing power for 70 buildings.
Onley Springs was the first town where construction began with their new houses and duplexes—and then Eads was second. That was back last year in the late spring. Today, the Onley Springs project is completed and Eads is near finished with just one more home awaiting inspection. In Eads the hospital built one duplex—with two housing units. According to hospital CEO Beth Bell one side of the duplex will be used to accommodate visiting locum physicians or other professionals working a stint at the hospital. Or for housing for a permanent professional. The other unit will be used as a wellness space with specific operational details to still be ironed out..
There are also two new houses that were built on land either donated or sold by KCEDF along Cactus Drive in the Kiowa Estates development area. The two houses are located just west of the three (eventually) duplexes built by SECED for affordable housing. All in, on Cactus Drive in Eads there are two new Workforce Project houses, each three bedroom/2 bath, and 6 new housing units, from the Affordable Housing Project, for a total of 8 new housing opportunities.
According to Gonzales, “The furthest house to the west on Cactus Drive is sold and a family will soon move in. The larger house just west of the three duplexes is for sale or rent.” It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with 1500 square feet plus a detached garage. The Lark Model home from Prairie Homes Company sits on a large lot (0.6 acres). It has a beautiful view of the landscape looking south towards Jackson’s Pond. Accommodations include a gas range, quartz counter tops, vinyl plank flooring throughout, refrigerator and dish washer built in, and washer/dryer hook ups. If interested in a brand new house with an open view facing south towards the Jackson’s Pond Wildlife Area contact Stephanie Gonzales at SECED in Lamar.
The Workforce Housing project will be completely done across the region by June. With two towns completed (Onley Springs and Eads). Granada will be next to complete their projects including 7 duplexes (14 units) and three 1,500 sq. feet homes. Springfield has 11 duplexes (22 units) and 3 houses being built. In Las Animas there are 8 duplexes (16 units) that should be completed by late April. Wiley has two houses that will be done in early May. La Junta and Lamar each have 3 houses scheduled to be completed in late May.
Once the construction is completed SECED will be the property manager for 64 units across the region. They will hire a housing manager to oversee the living spaces and that manager will hire people in each community to manage their particular collection of new houses/duplexes. Those people will be subcontracted out to do specific work as needed.
Overall, as the area prepares to welcome an influx of renewable energy workers, there are at least some solutions being solved for the housing crisis that has plagued this region for a generation. It’s not solved completely, but at least a bit of new inventory has been added to the overall housing picture. More will be needed and SECED and other partners are putting their collective energies and funds together to see what else in the way of housing they can achieve for the future. But, my oh my, it’s a good start to be sure.