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Planned Neighborhood of Affordable Workforce Housing
Amid skyrocketing housing prices across our county and along the Front Range, Boulder County is planning to create a neighborhood of affordable workforce housing that will help the City of Lafayette and the broader region reach important goals for addressing the lack of housing affordability in the years ahead.
The planned housing site is a 24-acre parcel located just southwest of the intersection of 120th Street and East Emma Street in Lafayette. Boulder County and the City of Lafayette purchased the property for $3.5 million from Flatirons Community Church, a strong supporter of affordable housing. An intergovernmental agreement is in place between the City of Lafayette and Boulder County dedicating the land for the creation of deed-restricted, permanently-below-market-rate homes, to include both rental and ownership options.
The land parcel sits in an ideal location for housing that will be dedicated to working families and individuals, community elders, and others who need safe, stable, and quality homes they can afford. It is near important services and the Lafayette town center, and the area is considered a priority by the Boulder County Transportation Department for the enhancement of multi-modal transportation options.
The City of Lafayette’s Affordable Housing Development Fee is supporting this planned affordable workforce housing. The fee, which went into effect in January 2016, collects 30 cents per square foot on all new residential development to help fund permanently-affordable housing.
The Boulder County Housing Authority (BCHA) is the official housing authority for all areas of the county beyond the city limits of Longmont and Boulder, including Lafayette. A significant portion of BCHA’s mission is to sustainably maximize access to and maintain quality affordable housing and appropriate services for residents of Boulder County, including middle-, low-, and very-low-income community members. We accomplish this mission through community collaboration, integrated services and programs, professional organization, effective management, and the pursuit and expansion of funding sources and land and building acquisition.
In June 2017, the City of Lafayette and Boulder County (and by extension, Boulder County Housing Authority) entered into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) around this planned neighborhood of affordable workforce housing that helps demonstrate expectations and guide performance around the development. The IGA calls for 80% of all homes built on the property to be deed-restricted for rents and purchase prices that are well-below-market rate for residents. Of these, 20% should be for-sale and 80% should be rental (Section 9a/b/c). The rental homes are stipulated to serve people earning at or below 60% of the Area Median Income. And at least 10% of the rental homes must be set aside for people age 55 and older.
The IGA also stipulates that (in perpetuity) the land can only be used for affordable housing (Section 20a).
This IGA highlights past successes for the two entities in partnering to create affordable housing for families, seniors, disabled individuals, and others, but also acknowledges that “others still struggle to attain safe, decent, affordable housing in Lafayette” (Recital A/B).
Importantly, the IGA defines “affordable housing” as “housing for which the total cost of monthly rent payments, or the total cost of monthly payment of principal, interest, taxes, insurance including private mortgage insurance, and homeowner association dues, does not exceed the specified percentage of the Area Median Income and which is intended not to require payment of more than 30% of the gross monthly household income…” (Section 2).
These are the benefits of the planned neighborhood of affordable workforce housing listed in the IGA:
- People living in the new housing are likely to shop within Lafayette and increase the city’s sales tax base.
- People living in the housing will likely generate additional and new revenue to the City of Lafayette.
- The agreement is consistent with the city’s past and present policies on economic development and affordable housing initiatives.
- The agreement serves to provide benefit and advance the public interest and welfare of the city and county and residents and businesses within both.
The final plan for this housing in east Lafayette will be developed largely through guidance from this IGA; input received from a range of neighbors, community members, and other stakeholders; and the mission of the Boulder County Housing Authority to maximize access to affordable housing for a range of community members in need.
A second IGA was developed between Boulder County and the Boulder County Housing Authority which passes on all the requirements of the first agreement to BCHA.
An initial design workshop was held on August 29th for the planned East Lafayette community of affordable workforce housing. Interested community members participated by sharing design ideas and preferences with other community stakeholders and the project team. Attendees made recommendations for the layout of the planned community, including housing types and locations, parks and trail amenities, and other infrastructure.
Approximately 40 to 50 community members attended the open house. Participants learned about the project and shared their views on the opportunities and challenges presented by the site. The attendees then broke into nine small groups for an interactive land use exercise with a map of the site, building blocks, and construction paper so they could design the community.
After analyzing the community-designed plans, common themes emerged, including (but not limited to):
- providing a connection from Canterbury (by Peak to Peak) to 120th,
- providing a buffer along 120th and Emma,
- striving for lower intensity of uses along Emma St,
- prioritizing higher intensity of uses along the industrial edge, and
- encouraging multi-modal connections.
Here is a presentation of the design suggestions developed by workshop participants. Please take the time to see the ideas area neighbors and other stakeholders came up with to plan for the new neighborhood.
The staff of the Boulder County Housing Authority are committed to engaging with neighbors and others with an interest in this community of affordable homes in a productive conversation around how to meet the community’s broader needs for diverse housing, environmental sustainability, transportation, infrastructure, and more.
To gain a full understanding of both the surrounding neighborhoods and Lafayette more broadly, we have spent the past several months immersed in the community, getting to know the land, the neighbors, and active community members in the area. This has helped shape and prioritize community outreach and engagement opportunities, including neighborhood planning, open space and trail connections, roadway connectivity, and mobility issues.
With this understanding of the community, we developed a Public Engagement Plan (PEP) that includes Community Wide Engagement through open houses, community presentations, and the formation of the East Lafayette Advisory Committee (ELAC) – a community group of area residents and stakeholders who will help advise us in implementing this engagement plan in the most inclusive and effective way, and who will engage with us in shared learning about the issues and interests behind the planned community of affordable workforce housing.
East Lafayette Advisory Committee
The purpose of the East Lafayette Advisory Committee (ELAC) is to engage in shared learning about the issues and interests behind the planned community of affordable homes, as well as understanding the needs of and impacts to the immediate and broader communities. Boulder County Housing Authority staff and team members are fully committed to taking all advisory opinions and recommendations into consideration. While not bound to honor all recommendations from the group, BCHA staff will review them and give due consideration and discussion. Additional community meetings will be held in 2018 to begin envisioning the design of the property and how best to ensure it integrates into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Latest Updates – ELAC
The second meeting of the East Lafayette Advisory Committee (ELAC) was held on Monday, September 17th, in the Community Room at Aspinwall @ Josephine Commons, 771 Excelsior Place in Lafayette. Here is the agenda and here are the minutes from that meeting. In this meeting, ELAC members reviewed the outcomes from the Design Workshop Open House and provided additional feedback for consideration for the planning of the site. Most of the discussion was on the Design Workshop Open House planning outcomes that will guide the planning moving forward.
The BCHA planning team carefully reviewed the design suggestions from the Design Workshop Open House and ELAC members, and has created three DRAFT site plans for community review. These plans reflect input received from neighbors and other area stakeholders combined with the mission of BCHA to increase the availability of affordable housing in our communities and the requirements of the intergovernmental agreement between BCHA and the City of Lafayette. We will present these draft site plans at the third ELAC meeting on October 22nd (see the agenda for the meeting, minutes posted here later), which will be held from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Josephine Commons (455 N. Burlington Avenue) in Lafayette. We also shared the draft site plans electronically with all ELAC members via email to allow one week to review the plans before the October ELAC meeting.
At the October 22nd meeting, the BCHA team will also provide a presentation on the recent transportation/traffic study that was conducted near the planned housing site, and will share the latest information on transportation improvements planned for the area as well as other potential improvements that could result from the presence of the new neighborhood. Here is a PDF of the presentation that will be given.
The next steps in the Public Engagement Plan’s Community Planning and Design Engagement phase include additional community meetings focused on refined plans resulting from the current design process (including additional opportunities to discuss mobility and transportation issues), and a naming contest for the new neighborhood of affordable workforce housing.
Concurrent with this outreach are ongoing presentations to community groups as well as backyard meetings and coffees with interested neighbors or groups who want to learn more about the planned housing and provide feedback. We are presenting and listening to neighborhood associations and business groups throughout the area. We welcome the opportunity to share our story and hear how we can make this affordable workforce housing community a model for both design and engagement.
Engagement, Design, and Planning Timeline
See the East Lafayette Affordable Workforce Housing Timeline PDF for more information about what will be happening and when.
The site for the future East Lafayette affordable workforce housing community is currently vacant. Through an inclusive planning process, the new development will take shape. Once the form and shape of the site is drawn, then appropriate zoning will be determined and we will seek approval from the City of Lafayette. At present, we anticipate construction at the site could begin in 2020, with first move-ins possible the following year.
Please let us know how we can help you get involved in the planned affordable workforce housing community, including if you want us to meet with you or your organization.
To facilitate community feedback on the initial plans, we have created multiple ways to communicate with our project team and community ELAC members:
- You can email the ELAC Board and the BCHA Project Team at ELACboard@gmail.com. Every email sent to this account will be shared with all the members of the ELAC as well as the relevant BCHA representatives. This email is set up to provide open communication with fellow Lafayette community members and volunteers serving on the ELAC.
- Each ELAC meeting has dedicated time for public Q&A, so you can join us at the next meeting on October 22nd.
- BCHA’s Outreach team is available if you would like to share your feedback via the phone, by calling 303-825-1671.
- If needed, materials can be translated into a language of your preference.
- For more information, or if you have general questions or comments, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BCHA continues to coordinate various community meetings with our ELAC community representatives. Meetings are being held in conjunction with Old Town, Arbordale Acres, Peak to Peak School and other Lafayette ELAC groups. We are also planning a walk along Emma Street with neighbors and the BCHA Team, details will be posted on the website and shared once a date is finalized.
Sign up here if you’re interested in living in this new community in east Lafayette. Please note: this is not an application, nor does it put you on a wait list for these homes. Additional steps would need to be taken once the homes are complete and ready for move-in. We will contact everyone on this list as that time approaches.
Sign up here if you only want information updates about this new community in east Lafayette (and would not be interested in living in it).