Habitat to sell Keator Grove properties

Habitat for Humanity houses at Keator Grove in Carbondale stand near vacant land that Habitat now plans to sell.
John Stroud / Post Independent |

CARBONDALE — After eight years in the neighborhood, Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork plans to sell off its six remaining lots in Keator Grove while planning to focus on building duplexes rather than single-family homes.

The key change is that duplexes are far more efficient on multiple levels, in terms of space, land, money and energy, said Scott Gilbert, president of the local Habitat chapter.

Overall, the local Habitat has built 22 homes in the Roaring Fork Valley with two more underway. Eight of those have been in Carbondale.

The Habitat chapter is constructing about four homes per year, said Gilbert. “And we’re trying to increase volume to six per year.”

Habitat bought a dozen lots in Keator Grove during the housing crisis, and since then five Habitat houses have been built in the neighborhood, with one more expected to be completed early next year.

But the Keator Grove lots are required by its Planned Unit Development to be single-family homes.

“It becomes all about efficiency,” said Gilbert, who aims to construct these duplex homes for under $300,000 and build up to 26 of them.

With the duplexes, Habitat families will still have all the normal requirements, including putting in 250 hours of “sweat equity” to contribute to construction of their new home.

Outside of Keator Grove, about two-thirds of Habitat families in the valley are in duplexes, said Gilbert.

Habitat is currently working on a deal with the Roaring Fork School District for what could be 20 or more duplexes on school district land in Basalt that could serve as the valley’s newest teacher housing.

In Ironbridge, too, the Roaring Fork School District is proposing to build six duplex-model rental units for teacher housing, which the Ironbridge developers are proposing to satisfy their affordable housing requirement – though this isn’t a Habitat project.

The Basalt project might work out a deal dedicating half of the housing for teachers and half for Habitat families, said Gilbert.

Though the organization is looking to move these resources out of town, Gilbert says this likely isn’t the end of Habitat homes in Carbondale. Most of the Habitat homes in the valley have been built in Carbondale, and Habitat will consider the town for future projects, he said.

Two weeks ago the newest Habitat family, the Sisneroses, moved into their new Keator Grove home on Linden Circle. The Sisneroses are now the second-to-last Habitat family that will move into the neighborhood.

On average, the Habitat families in Keator Grove are paying about $250,000 for homes that have been appraised for more than $500,000, said Gilbert. They’re paying about $900 to $1,200 per month on average, a figure that’s based on their incomes, he said.

That pays principal and interest on their mortgage, plus taxes and insurance, “so it’s a great deal for these families.”

“This family was foreclosed on in 2008, but since then they’ve cleaned up their credit and have been able to qualify for a loan from the bank,” he said of the Sisneroses.

Now they’re moving into their new home just in time for their son to start kindergarten, said Gilbert. “This was an emotional day for the families.”

“I think that connecting with folks in our community is one brilliant aspect of the sweat equity system,” said Zane Sisneros, who’s also a Garfield County sheriff’s deputy. “Working on the home is much more than a means to an end. It is an opportunity for our community members to meet and create bonds.”

“We’ve evolved from serving people in poverty to people with good employment who still can’t afford a house,” said Gilbert. “We’re proud of the fact that we’re helping young families stay in the valley.”

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