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The Chaffee Housing Trust is a local nonprofit created to develop homeownership and rental opportunities affordable for lower-income workers and residents who cannot afford market-rate housing.

We build homes using the Community Land Trust model which preserves affordability in perpetuity. Grants and donations invested in each home stays with that home as a community asset. Each home stays affordable for future generations without the need for additional subsidy. Homeowners build limited equity in their home, setting them up to move to a market-rate home when the time comes, or they can pass the home on to their heirs. The next buyer then purchases the home at a price that will be affordable to them. The Chaffee Housing Trust acts as steward to ensure that both the homeowner and the community benefit, now and in the future.

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To promote responsible community development by providing affordable and sustainable homeownership and rentals to qualifying residents


All Chaffee County residents and workers can choose to live in homes they own and work in the community with the full benefits and responsibilities of participation in the social, economic, and political fabric


When full equity in homeownership can't be realized for low and moderate-income households, shared equity should be attainable in an affordable and sustainable manner, providing additional rungs at the bottom end of the ladder to the American dream. 


The 2016 Chaffee Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) clearly details a well-known problem: Housing is not affordable to many residents, including workforce critical to the local economy. Of the households earning less than $35,000 per year (51% of total population in the year 2000), one third have left the county, replaced by newly arrived high-income residents. These low-wage local workers are the engine of the tourism economy, Chaffee County’s primary economic driver. Many employers are not able to find workers needed for current business activity, never mind looking forward. As a former County Commissioner joked, “The one thing you can’t buy in Chaffee County is a ‘Help Wanted’ sign because they’re sold out. Every business has one in the window.” 

According to the HNA, there are 2,400 cost-burdened households (30% of total) in the County who pay more than they can afford (defined as spending more than 30% of their gross monthly income on housing). Currently, the average home sale price is $398,000 in Salida and $346,000 in Buena Vista. The income required to afford a $350,000 mortgage is $75,000/year, which is 130% of Area Median Income (AMI). A three-person household earning less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) can only afford a mortgage of $199,000 or less ($46,000/year gross income, 30% towards housing costs, 30-year mortgage at 4% interest rate, $200/mo. escrow). As interest rates rise, affordability will become further out of reach.


The CHT provides programs and services almost exclusively to low-income households in Chaffee and Lake Counties. Homeownership and rentals are restricted to households earning less than 80% Area Median Income. Financial education and counseling services are not exclusive as those in the "missing middle" (80% - 150% AMI) may be served as needed, though the organization's primary focus is on those earning less than 80% AMI. Based on historical interest, less than 5% of clients earn more than 80% AMI.


This precedent-setting effort is uniquely poised to provide affordable housing to low-income households priced out of the market at a scale commensurate with the problem. This project will serve as a model for future efforts. Thanks to the CHT’s long-term stewardship, the benefits will be multi-generational as low-income families cycle through overtime as owners and renters. Renters can take advantage of program services, financial education, and mortgage application assistance to eventually become owners. This impact will be measured by the financial equity that each family builds, and the availability of homes to low-income households. Homeowner and renter satisfaction will be surveyed annually. There will be an indirect impact on local businesses through employee stability and longevity, as well as on the social fabric of our economically diverse community by retaining residents who may otherwise be forced to leave.

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