By Eric Heinz
Five homes that were constructed beginning in January have all sold to people looking to establish ownership in the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods, but at a much lower cost than the average single-family home in Denver.
Denver’s average market sales price for a single-family home was $625,000 in July, according to the Colorado Association of Realtors. But the houses established by the Tierra Colectiva branch of the GES Coalition all recently sold for between $205,000 and $215,000.
Nola Miguel, the director of the GES Coalition, which is the umbrella organization for Tierra Colectiva, said the most exciting part was seeing all the families move in when the project was done, especially as they were waiting on permit approvals.
“Having them finally be able to move in and be excited, and I got an email from the family that lives here (in one of the units), they sent me an email saying the first night that they slept there, the kids woke up and said, ‘It’s like a dream,’” Miguel said, adding some families were living with other relatives without adequate space.
The homes all had appliances installed but were not furnished, according to Miguel. To qualify, people had to prove they make no more than 80% of the area median income (AMI), which for a family of four is a total household income of less than $99,280.
“Most people were living in apartments that were in really bad condition,” Miguel said. “Too small for their family size, paying way too much. Even though they’re purchasing a home, their month-to-month housing costs are going down.”
Miguel added that the homes were sold with fixed mortgages attached.
Miguel said even the property taxes are more stable than a traditional home because Tierra Colectiva and its partners have an agreement with the Denver Assessor’s Office. Because owners cannot sell their homes at market price, they are not taxed at market rates.
“Their taxes might go up a teeny bit, but they’re way more stable than a traditional home,” she said.
Tierra Colectiva partnered with Denver-based Brothers Redevelopment Inc. to develop the modular homes, and the land trust is also overseen by Colorado Community Land Trust in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Miguel said there is “a long list of partners” involved with the projects.
Tierra Colectiva had already preserved eight units. Four were duplexes and four were rehabilitated homes. Future plans include tandem homes, additional rowhouses and replacing homes on land that was left over from the I-70 corridor project. When all that is done, Tierra Colectiva could have about 25 homes in its portfolio.
“The land is (Colorado Department of Transportation)-owned, so we got some congressionally allocated funds through (Sen. John) Hickenlooper’s office to pay for those parcels because per their regulations, they can’t just give the land to us,” Miguel said. “They actually have to get a fair market price. So we’re in a purchase and sale finalization right now with them. And so that’ll be an additional, probably, six homes.”
Miguel said Tierra Colectiva is working with the city to do rehabilitation projects on existing properties it may be able to acquire along with the help of Habitat for Humanity, which has an extensive history of completing such housing projects.
The land trust is also looking to partner with Brothers to offer some rent-to-own housing projects.
“Even though we’re able to reduce the prices quite a bit, some people still aren’t qualifying for a mortgage,” Miguel said.
The Tierra Colectiva land trust is owned by the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea community members.