Senior housing development in the works for Rifle
Rifle Housing Authority is looking to add more housing in town for low-income seniors, as the organization is about to submit a grant application to the Colorado Housing Finance Authority.
RHA is looking to construct 50 units on vacant land near the existing 106 senior housing units at Third Street and Ute Avenue. The units will be for seniors in need of affordable housing.
RHA Maintenance Supervisor Mark Sours said when he started with the organization the waiting list for applicants was around 20 to 25. Now, it’s up over 90.
On May 15, RHA Executive Director Natalie Bowman presented the project to the Rifle City Council, seeking council support for the project before the application was submitted.
Rifle Planning Director Nathan Lindquist said it’s pretty standard for the city to waive development fees for a project like this, as it fills an identified need. Among those are water and sewer system improvement fees, street impact fees and parkland dedication fees.
RHA has proposed a three-year timeline for construction.
While Bowman asked for up to $190,000 in fees waived, Rifle City Council unanimously agreed to waive a total of $200,000 in development fees.
“I think we need to look beyond,” Mayor Barbara Clifton said.
She said that, for this and other affordable housing projects for seniors and disabled individuals, the city should go beyond what they would do with a for-profit project.
Bowman said that, by waiving fees, it shows to CHFA that the city is backing the project. She added that the grant would be a significant investment for Rifle.
Since last August, RHA worked on the conceptual design, financing and selected the development team for the project.
The housing will be for seniors with incomes under 60 percent of area median income, or about $33,000 annually for a single person in Garfield County.
According to Bowman, the expectation is that at least 10 of the units will be used for seniors below 30 percent AMI, or about $17,000 annually.
While the CHFA application will be a competitive process, if successful, the tax credits could provide as much as $12 million in funding.
The remaining costs of the projects will be paid for using loans, other grants and other support, she said.
Bowman said the application needs to be submitted by June 3.
She added that there is a significant need for affordable housing for seniors in town, and this would be largest project RHA has ever taken on.
According to Bowman, 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day nationally.
By the year 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65, and one in every five Americans will be older than 65, according to the U.S. Census.
“The aging of baby boomers means that, within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history,” Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, said in the 2018 press release.
According to Sours, RHA will hear back on the application by September.
Both he and Bowman are confident in the project because, while only about 25 to 30 percent of the projects submitted to CHFA receive funding, RHA is the only affordable senior housing project on the Western Slope.
“We’re feeling optimistic when we look at who else has submitted,” Bowman said.
She added that, if the application is unsuccessful, RHA can always reapply with a better application next round.
Of the 30 projects submitted to CHFA, 12 are affordable senior housing projects, Bowman added.
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