Nederland Housing

Nederland Housing

Tungsten Village: Nederland’s New Neighborhood of Affordable Workforce 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 on Third Street 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 for the area’s workforce, seniors, and others. 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.

Update: July 2019

We have broken ground at the Tungsten Village site in Nederland! At this time, we expect to begin accepting applications to live in the homes in early 2020. At this time, the first move-ins at Tungsten Village are expected to take place by fall 2020.

The maximum rent levels, set by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), are generally calculated using county-wide Area Median Income (AMI) and area market-rate rents. Tungsten Village homes will be available for families or individuals earning up to 60 percent AMI. As examples for 2018, 30 percent AMI for a family of three was $29,340 a year and 60 percent AMI was $58,680 (families and individuals earning well below 30 percent AMI can also be eligible). We also have housing vouchers to assist residents earning below 30% AMI.HUD’s 2019 income and rent limits will be set soon, and BCHA will apply these HUD-established LIHTC rent levels for Tungsten Village homes. It is important to note that all BCHA rent rates include utilities. When compared to market rate rents with utilities added, BCHA rental rates are generally significantly lower.

Anyone interested in a Tungsten Village home can sign up for the “Interest List” by clicking this link or contacting Nichol Mattson at nmattson@bouldercounty.org or 303-441-1296. If you already signed up for this list, no need to do so again. However, if you know others who might be interested in these homes and who may qualify for them, please pass this message along to them. Remember that signing up for the interest list is not the same as filling out an application to live in one of the homes. The application process will take place later this year. We will update you when we know when this will occur.

In the meantime, we encourage you to stay in touch with community organizations in your area, particularly those engaged in the Peak to Peak Housing and Human Services Alliance (here’s the website). These organizations are supporting Tungsten Village and –importantly- may be able to help you determine whether you could qualify to live in these homes.

We’ll be in touch through the email interest and information lists and on this page when we have additional information.

The Name it, Ned! Community Contest

The Boulder County Housing Authority in 2018 announced the winning submission and community contributors for the “Name it, Ned!” contest. A total of 70 respondents voted on six different options, and the clear winner was Tungsten Village! This submission received more than twice as many top votes than the second runner-up. Semi-finalist submissions considered for the final round of voting were submitted by:

  • Katie Sylvest
  • Naomi Harris
  • Kristen Conrad
  • Carol Helwig
  • Janice Gauger
  • Jason Walp
  • Tamara Whinston

Both Naomi Harris and Tamara Whinston submitted suggestions that included “Tungsten”, so both will receive the grand prize for naming the new neighborhood in Ned: a big basket of gift cards from Nederland area businesses! Thank you to all of the Nederland residents and community partners who submitted naming ideas, helped spread the word about the contest, and took part in the voting. Semi-finalists will also receive gift cards.

Why Tungsten Village?

Both Naomi and Tamara cited Nederland’s history of tungsten mining as a source of inspiration for their submission. According to the town history, Sam Conger, who had discovered the Caribou silver mine, found tungsten in areas to the north and east of Nederland, and he knew its value in making steel. The old silver mill in Nederland was converted to process tungsten. By 1916, Nederland had a population of nearly 3,000, about twice its present number. The discovery of tungsten inspired a renaissance of mining in Nederland, becoming synonymous with new beginnings and revitalization of the mountain town.

As Tamara said in her submission, “Taking the rich history of mining Tungsten in the Nederland area and putting it together with the saying “it takes a village” is so fitting for our close knit community. I feel that “Tungsten Village” would be a lasting name for our new neighborhood!”

More about Tungsten Village:

A final Planned Unit Development (PUD) application was 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 Nederland Town Board approved the plan on March 20th. We are deeply grateful to town leaders and staff for your support, as well as community partners and other supporters who shared your thoughts about the need for this housing. We understand some neighbors in the area surrounding the housing site have concerns about potential impacts of some aspects of the development on them. We remain committed to listening to these concerns and addressing them to the best of our ability while also meeting our mission and goal of increasing access to affordable workforce, senior, and family housing in Nederland.

BCHA has been awarded tax credits through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) for funding support for the construction of Tungsten Village. Low Income Housing Tax Credits are a critical tool in the creation of affordable housing.

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 currently owned and managed by BCHA in Nederland, BCHA also has 11 Housing Choice Voucher holders who reside in Nederland. Housing Choice Vouchers are housing assistance vouchers used in the private housing market.


In addition to housing, Boulder County has long partnered with the Nederland community across a range of other supports, including food assistance, health coverage, child protection, and child care assistance. 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

In the initial stages of planning for Tungsten Village, BCHA intended to work with Town staff and attorney to draft a local preference policy for those who live and/or work in the Nederland area. In December 2018, BCHA formally requested such a preference from the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (HUD FHEO), with the required supporting Census data attached. This policy was subsequently denied by HUD due to the determination that it would have an unequal impact on a racial minority or other protected classes in the Nederland and broader adjacent communities. While BCHA has enacted local preferences for some communities in which it has built housing, most recently for Kestrel in Louisville, HUD has since reviewed its policy regarding local preferences, enacting stricter rules to ensure fair housing compliance. Due to this review, BCHA will unlikely apply for or receive a local preference for any of its developments in the future.

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.

Regardless, going forward there is 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 Alliance, 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.

In the months ahead, BCHA will hold meetings in the area to help those who are interested understand whether they would be eligible for the homes, rental rates for the homes, and how, where, and when to apply for them. We will also remain in touch with the Peak to Peak Housing and Human Services Alliance and local media in the months ahead, and we will utilize social media to communicate about our process as well.

``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.

Traffic

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.

Parking

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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