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Discussion Focuses on Lamar Housing Needs

Housing Meeting at SECED in Lamar

 

Adequate, affordable housing and job/business growth are intertwined. If Lamar and Prowers County can’t meet future housing needs, the job market and new businesses may not develop in the community.  A lot of rental and ownership properties are sub-standard and out-of-date according to a 2017 study that assessed six counties in southeast Colorado.  These figures and others were discussed during a housing needs seminar held at SECED, Southeast Colorado Economic Development on January 30th.

Executive Director, Stephanie Gonzales, summarized some key elements of that study which found that the housing market is aging with up to 36% of the houses in the region built before 1939. Many are lacking basic amenities taken for granted today and they offer low appraisement values.  Most renters have incomes that fall below the median wage level.  By 2025, the six counties will see a population growth of about 623 adults and by that year, the 65 years or older crowd will have increased by 1,300.

The discussion group included Gonzales, municipal representatives from the City of Lamar, Prowers Economic Prosperity, the banking industry, real estate, health and business. The general consensus was, based on income and age, the most beneficial means of housing development would be served by building clusters of two bedroom, one bath, patio-model housing units of 1,200 square feet to serve the older population.

Gonzales explained that SECED will begin to develop a prospectus over the next three months to present to finance lenders looking to secure capital gains tax deferrals when they invest in housing development. “Lamar is in an opportunity zone which qualifies for significant funding for home construction over ten years, but there has to be a means of showing a return on that investment within the first five years,” she told the gathering.

She added that SECED is a lending agency that can loan up to $24,999 to single-family home owners for rehabilitation projects that cover a new roof, doors, windows or other projects. “The loan is for 30 years with interest rates from 1 to 4.5% based on income and the owner is allowed to do a lot of the construction work, minus any electrical areas.  The loan covers material costs but not personal labor.”

Prowers Economic Prosperity recently held a day-long assessment survey covering the organizations’ goals which highlighted the need for housing in the county and the Lamar City Council held a separate work session last month discussing housing needs in the community. Both organizations are making contact with local/regional contractors to explore financing options for housing construction.  Follow up meetings have been planned for February.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyFeaturedHousingTourismUtilities

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