Nederland Housing

Nederland Housing

Nederland Below-Market-Rate Housing:

In our quest to help address the increasing lack of housing affordability across the county, the Boulder County Housing Authority (BCHA) purchased a .85-acre lot near downtown Nederland. The currently-vacant land is located next to the town’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) parking lot and is near many area services, making it ideal for the placement of 26 high-quality, permanently-below-market-rate rental homes. BCHA presented our initial proposal for this housing at two community meetings in March 2017. We updated our proposal to reflect some of the community feedback we received at that time as well as additional feedback and guidance from town staff.

A final Planned Unit Development (PUD) application has been submitted to the Town of Nederland. The Nederland Planning Commission approved the proposal by a 4-to-1 vote at their February 28, 2018 meeting, and the request now moves to the Nederland Town Board for consideration on March 20th.

The Planning Commission added some conditions to its approval, including that BCHA provide a Parking Management Plan, work with the Board of Trustees to appoint a Town/property management liaison, incorporate an elevator into the building plans, review all relevant reports with town staff prior to the BOT meeting, and include information about plans for a local preference for the homes. We are working to clarify some of the requests to ensure we are providing the information that is sought.

The proposal includes:

  • 26 high-quality, permanently-below-market-rate rental homes.
  • Homes would be affordable to those earning at or below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI)
  • Mix of 1, 2, and 3-bedroom homes
  • BCHA is committed to working with the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) to serve district employees who are being priced out of the market. BCHA is planning to set aside up to four (4) homes for qualified district employees.
  • Community Amenities include: Secured keyless entry feature, individual home storage, paved patio area with outdoor seating, play-ground/tot lot & ponds, on-site secure bicycle parking, pedestrian connection to regional transportation network, and on-site property management office.

BCHA has a long-standing relationship with the Town of Nederland and has operated as the town’s housing authority since 1976. BCHA currently owns and manages twenty-four (24) existing residential multifamily homes within the town limits and will be making investments to improve these communities in years to come to help ensure below-market-rate housing options remain in place for residents in these homes. In addition to the 24 apartments owned and managed by BCHA in Nederland, BCHA also currently has 11 Housing Choice Voucher holders who reside in Nederland – Housing Choice Vouchers are housing assistance vouchers located in the private housing market.

Boulder County has long had a strong partnership with the Nederland community across a range of supports. Find out about the need for affordable housing in Nederland and our partnerships in support of the community by reading the fact sheet.

  • Are you interested in living in BCHA affordable housing in Nederland? Sign up. 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.
  • Do you simply want to keep track of the latest information on BCHA affordable housing in Nederland (but are not interested in living in it)? Sign up

Frequently Asked Questions

Nederland community members have had questions about the proposed Nederland below-market-rate housing. Please see the topic areas below.

Why 26?

Due in part to declining direct financial support for affordable housing from the federal government over time, housing authorities utilize a tool known as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit in order to finance the creation of below-market-rate rental housing and maintain its affordability over the long-term. Investors purchase the tax credits, which provide them a certain level of return. Not only does this tool help communities build and sustain homes affordable to working families, seniors, and others in need, it is also an excellent example of a public-private partnership that generates long-term community benefit and helps reduce the need for tax dollars and other local funds to be used.

However, in order to ensure the tax credits have enough of a return to attract investors, a certain number of homes (units) must be built. As this graphic illustrates, a development of fewer than 30 homes is barely large enough to be attractive to a Low Income Housing Tax Credit investor. A 20-home community will not generate sufficient investor interest. For this reason the smaller community would need to be a market rate development to cover its costs, which does not contribute to a housing affordability solution.

Our proposal is to build 26 below-market-rate rental homes on our parcel. We believe we will be able to attract some LIHTC investor interest with this number, but more importantly – these homes will will make much-needed progress toward a longer-term solution for the lack of housing affordability that so many of Nederland’s residents and workforce members currently face.

Who Would Live Here?

These homes would be for anyone who earns at or below 60% of Area Median Income, including teachers and school staff, first responders, restaurant and cafe workers, single parents with children, seniors on fixed income, people living with a disability, and many others. See the “Preference for Nederland Residents” section for information about our commitment to working to ensure Nederland residents and workforce members receive preference to live here.

Preference for Nederland Residents

We are very supportive of pursuing a preference for current Nederland residents and workforce members to live in these homes. Before it could be put in place, this preference would need to be approved by federal and state regulators, and here’s why: While BCHA wants to build below-market-rate rental housing in Nederland because it’s clear the area needs it, federal and state fair housing laws make it illegal to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or handicap. One of the law’s purposes is to promote residential integration. Requiring the homes be rented only to “Nederland people” could be construed as discriminatory because an unanticipated consequence could be that the housing is then unavailable to some of the seven protected class categories. With very limited exceptions not applicable here, the federal Fair Housing Act applies to anyone seeking to build, sell, rent, or finance housing, affordable or not.

In other BCHA developments where the local community has contributed significant funding to the development, BCHA has agreed to incorporate limited local preferences that comply with fair housing laws. We applied for and received local preferences for Josephine Commons in Lafayette, and for Kestrel in Louisville.

No agency will grant a local preference before a development proposal is approved by a jurisdiction. Should we receive approval from the Town of Nederland Board of Trustees, we would then be able to begin the process of submitting a plan for preferences for the housing.

Outside this current zoning approval process, we’re willing to discuss with the Town the viability of a local preference policy for this development of 26 homes. Beyond and/or alongside a local preference, there is also much that can be done by the community and those who work with people in need in Nederland to help identify people who would likely qualify and encourage them to apply for the housing once it is completed. In fact, the Peak to Peak Housing and Human Services Task Force, which includes a broad range of organizations that serve people in need in and around Nederland, vows its support in working with BCHA to identify current Nederland area residents and connect them with this opportunity.

For reference, here is the local preference language used in other recent BCHA property leasings:

Kestrel in Louisville:

1. Primary Preference. Preference for applicants displaced as a result of the Boulder County flood disaster of September, 2013.
a. Pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §42 (g)(9)(A)and (B) (the low income housing tax credit), and the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (CDBG-DR), applicants who were displaced as a result of the Presidentially-declared disaster of September, 2013 shall be granted a preference for the Project.
b. This preference shall be in effect for 100% of the property for three years from the receipt of Certificate of Occupancy. After three years, this preference will sunset.

2. Secondary Preferences. Subordinate to the flood preference, BCHA shall apply the local preferences described in 3 (a) through (c) below in determining the placement of an applicant on the waiting list(s) for initial or subsequent lease of the age-restricted or affordable units. Local preferences shall be applied to no less than 80% of total affordable units built on the site.

3. Applicants having a preference shall be selected from the waiting list and receive an opportunity for an available unit earlier than those who do not have a preference. Each of the preferences listed in subparagraphs (a) through (c) below shall have equal weight in determining the order of an applicant’s placement on the waiting list.
a. Current residents: A household in which one or more members is living within the City of Louisville at the time of application. Documentation of residency should be provided, such as rent receipts, utility bills, street listing or voter registration listing.
b. Employees of Local Businesses and Governmental Entities: Employees of businesses located in the City of Louisville or local governments operating in the City of Louisville, and individuals with offers of employment from businesses located in the City of Louisville or local governments operating in the City of Louisville.
c. Relocating Family Member: Individuals who are over the age of 62, or disabled, who are seeking to move to the City of Louisville to be in proximity of immediate family who already reside in the City of Louisville.
d. Term. The secondary preferences described in paragraphs 3a-3c, above shall be in effect for a period of not less than fifteen years from the date of initial occupancy of the unit.

Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria will be processed and housed according to the date and time of their application, and will process applicants with preferences accordingly.

Josephine Commons in Lafayette:

Procedures for applying preferences:
Preference is given to applicants who live or work in Lafayette or who have immediate family member(s) living or working in Lafayette.
Preference is given to applicants in order to meet the income targeting requirements. An eligible applicant may be passed over in order to meet the required income targeting. Applicants will retain their position on the list and processed as soon as possible.
Applicants who meet the above criteria will be processed and housed according to the date and time of their application.

``Wait List`` for the Homes

There is no “wait list” in place for these proposed homes. We have an interest list for those who want to live in them, and an information list for those who simply want to know more about them, and both of these lists will be updated on our progress as time goes by. However neither of these are applicant waiting lists. A wait list will not start until the application process for the homes, which would begin well after construction starts. BCHA will communicate clearly with all those who want to know when the application time is approaching. We will also work closely with the Peak to Peak Housing and Human Services Task Force organizations at that time to ensure that Nederland residents and workforce members interested in these homes know what to do and when.

BCHA has wait lists in place for other housing opportunities all over Boulder County, however these lists would not be used to generate a Nederland housing wait list.


We have heard concerns from some community members around a general increase in traffic in the area, particularly as it relates to 3rd street. As a result, we have worked with our design and engineering teams for a site plan that only allows access off of Highway 72 and does not provide a through connection to 3rd Street. While a connection has been made to 3rd street, this will be limited to emergency vehicle and snow plow use only. A gate will be placed near 3rd street to prevent vehicle access.

BCHA’s recent survey across our housing portfolio indicates an average of just under one car per home. While we expect that average to be a bit higher for our Nederland homes, the number of additional vehicles in the area would still not be substantially increased. Regardless, we are committed to collaborating with the community, the Town, and other stakeholders to ensure that traffic impacts are minimized and safety is maximized in the area. This includes consulting with the relevant agencies around a reduced speed limit along 2nd Street as well as a safe crossing between the new homes and the RTD lot across the street.


Related to our proposal, some concerns have been voiced around parking and potential impact on surrounding neighbors. We have shifted the design of the community to lessen the impact of vehicles on the surrounding neighborhood, including ensuring that residents do not use 3rd Street to enter or exit the property.

With regard to parking, we know the average parking ratio for current BCHA properties is 1.88 parking spaces per unit. Based on BCHA’s recent parking survey, less than one space per unit, .97, is actually needed. However, we are proposing a total of 36 spaces for the 26 Nederland homes, a ratio of 1.4 spaces per home. This will allow for some residents to have two cars as well as some overflow space for guests. Each unit will be assigned certain spaces to help ensure optimal use of the area. Given the prevalence of one bedroom units in the proposed development, BCHA believes the proposed parking will accommodate resident vehicles without impacting surrounding neighbors. The site is also directly across from the Nederland RTD Park-n-Ride, and every resident gets an EcoPass for unlimited bus service.

BCHA is seeking a waiver of the code’s two-space-per-unit requirement from the Board of Trustees to allow for enough area to build the 26 homes and include a significant amount of green space as well.

Building Height

This building will be lower than the town’s 35-foot height limit, and shorter than some existing two-story buildings nearby. The building height was reduced from the original plans to address these concerns by stepping down to two-story sections and adding elements that break up the massing of the building façade into smaller elements that fit into the character of Nederland. A clustered building allows for more open green space along the creek. We are able to preserve 55% of the land area as “open space”.

BCHA is seeking a waiver of the code’s two-space-per-unit requirement from the Board of Trustees to allow for enough area to build the 26 homes and include a significant amount of green space as well.

Community Benefit

A common question in recent discussions around our proposal is “will the benefit the town will receive from these affordable homes equal to or greater than the assistance (rights of way vacations, parking waivers, ability to build 26 homes) the town is providing to BCHA in this process?” We certainly understand that there are some residents who do not feel 26 below-market-rate rental homes near downtown Nederland is enough of a community benefit for the town. We have also heard from many others that they believe these homes are an essential benefit that Nederland needs, and the 2014 Nederland Housing Needs Assessment confirms this. BCHA would not be in front of the town with this proposal if we did not feel strongly that this is the right place and time for it. We are committed to working with the full spectrum of perspectives on this issue, and ask both opponents and supporters to engage in productive, respectful discussion, because these dialogues are important.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

The Boulder County Housing Authority and its partners build high-efficiency homes with sustainable materials. These homes are built to last and to reduce both carbon emissions and cost of operation. BCHA will be building to the Enterprise Green Communities criteria. The Green Communities Criteria is the leading U.S. standard for the design, construction, and operation of healthy, energy efficient, and environmentally responsible affordable housing. Since its first release in 2004, the Criteria has played a leading role in advancing the widespread adoption of healthy design and building practices across the affordable housing field. BCHA recognizes that Enterprise Green Communities is leading the national effort to ensure that people living in affordable housing are healthier, spend less money on utilities, and have more opportunities through their connections to transportation, quality food, and healthcare systems. Certified Enterprise Green Communities properties cost less to operate and maintain, use fewer natural resources, generate less waste, and contain fewer toxic materials, contributing to a healthier environment. This includes the integrative design process, optimized location like passive solar, and site features like native plants, water conservation and stormwater management to protect the creek, energy efficiency, and property operations practices, and this year, an integration of resilient design features and expanded emphasis on residents’ health. To achieve Enterprise Green Communities Certification, all projects must achieve compliance with the mandatory measures applicable to that construction type; New Construction projects must achieve 35 optional points, Substantial Rehab projects must achieve 30 optional points, and Moderate Rehabilitation projects must also achieve 30 optional points.

As part of the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services, BCHA is committed to sustainable, healthy communities and takes seriously our responsibility for contributing to them.

Tax-Exempt Housing Authority

Given the significant public benefits that long-term affordable housing creates, the state legislature decided decades ago to help housing authorities build and operate developments like this one on a not-for-profit, sustainable basis by granting them tax-exempt status. Unlike private developers who often seek significant financial concessions from the towns in which they build in order to include even small percentages of affordable units in their developments, BCHA has not requested such concessions. 26 households in downtown Nederland will also increase sales for downtown businesses, contributing additional sales tax dollars to the Nederland tax base.

Safety and Access Questions from Nederland Fire

Upon initial review of the BCHA site plan, Nederland Fire Chief Rick Dirr related some areas of concern that he believed could impact the district’s ability to keep residents safe. These areas included emergency vehicle access, fire hydrant location and sizing, and elevator access. We have made adjustments to our plan based on Chief Dirr’s input and he believes we now meet the needed requirements—see Chief Dirr’s letter here.

Potential Impacts on Town Resources

With a local live/work preference for the housing, which BCHA will pursue, impacts on local resources would be reduced because some of the residents are already in Nederland. Additionally, the residents of these homes would be near downtown services, and likely to spend their money there more regularly, adding to the sales tax base for the town. Public Works Department Manager Chris Pelletier said in the 2/28 Planning Commission meeting that the town wants more people hooked into Nederland’s water and sewer systems to help cover the costs of these systems, and that this development would be beneficial to the town in that way.

We remain committed to collaborating with police, fire, and Public Works representatives to help ensure other impacts are minimized to the town’s resources and its residents. We believe that the benefits of these homes to Nederland in supporting its workforce, low-income families, seniors, and others outweigh the potential resource impacts.

What's Better - Business or Residences?

A few residents have questioned whether it might be more useful to use the parcel to attract a business/employer. This proposed building does not take away from the Town’s ability to attract businesses. In fact these below-market-rate rental homes can provide a significant benefit for people who are working in Nederland and want to continue doing so, which helps maintain the health of the labor market as well as the fiber of the community itself – Nederlanders who love their community can stay in it and continue to contribute to its uniqueness. To that point, the Town Administrator of Lyons recently explained that their Main Street commercial district has experienced very high vacancies because businesses cannot retain labor, as they have lost much of their affordable workforce housing stock. This is happening all over Boulder County at present.

Locating this housing near downtown also helps boost the existing businesses in the area, as it’s likely the residents will spend more of their money there simply because of their proximity to these shops, restaurants, and other establishments. A vibrant and thriving downtown area will serve to attract additional patrons and businesses.

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