Kathi Meyer: The Housing Issue in Routt County

Housing has been a challenge here in the Yampa Valley since the late 1970’s. Perhaps because we live in such a beautiful and desirable county, it may always be an issue.

But just because the goal seems insurmountable, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to help our community.

I think of the old-fashioned barn raising where neighbors gathered to help each other build something!

Kathi Meyer

I’ve spent the better part of my life creating opportunities for others to have safe, decent housing. During my corporate career, I led the financing for apartment complexes, mobile home parks and senior housing. And while serving on the Fannie Mae Advisory Board, I spearheaded national changes for first-time homebuyer loan programs and access to mortgages for minority populations.

When I moved to Routt County 26 years ago, I continued creating safe, decent housing opportunities, serving on the Board of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation (RALF). We acquired the 55-unit Hillside Village Apartments, started the USDA self-help program which financed the building of 18 single family residences throughout Routt County, and began the planning for the construction of 30 for-sale condominiums at Fox Creek. Then after the RALF Board worked collaboratively for two years with City and County officials, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority (YVHA) was born.  And it was an honor to be chosen the first YVHA Board President. Since then, the Housing Authority has acquired the 68-lot Fish Creek mobile home park and built the 48-unit Reserves apartments and the 72-unit Alpenglow apartments with joint venture partners. The 90-unit Sunlight apartments will be leased up this summer. And recently YVHA broke ground on their next low- and moderate-income project at Anglers 400.

In 2010, I joined the board of Routt County Habitat for Humanity where I served as its Treasurer and past President. Under my watch, we built and sold a duplex in the Riverside neighborhood.

In 2018 our community voted overwhelmingly to support a small mil levy, as a dedicated funding source for housing. Perhaps that was one reason a generous, anonymous donor gifted $30 million dollars to expand our community housing stock by more than 2,500 units by 2040. The Brown Ranch is envisioned to be a new community and the Mid-Valley development will provide for-sale and rental opportunities.

Our County Commissioners should be leaders in setting goals, acting, and making sure the people who represent the essential core of Routt County—our teachers, firefighters, nurses, and service employees can live in the communities where they work.

Infrastructure, such as water, sewer, and roads, represents a major cost and hurdle in the development of housing. The County should play a significant role in solving the most high-profile challenge facing its citizens by endorsing housing grants, streamlining its internal approval processes for housing projects, and supporting its municipalities as they deal locally with their own infrastructure and housing challenges.

Finally, we must not forget our senior population who struggle to “age in place” and stay in the communities where they raised their family, and maybe our next generation.

Food and shelter are basic human needs. But we, as Routt County, can certainly do better than just basic.

SOURCE: Kathi Meyer for County Commissioner