The first leasing phase for Louisville's Kestrel affordable housing complex will begin this spring and continue throughout most of 2017, Boulder County officials announced this week.
The demand for the $77.8 million project, which calls for up to 200 housing units and roughly 65,000 square feet of commercial space atop, has highlighted the increasing need for such housing in the region.
So far, the Boulder County Housing Authority has received about 510 applications, according to Boulder County Housing and Human Services spokesman Jim Williams, who added that they expect more than 600 applications for the 200-unit complex.
"I would say it's probably about (the amount applicants expected)," Williams said Wednesday. "We haven't done a lot of advertising — we've done very targeted outreach to those who have already expressed interest in affordable housing."
Construction on the site began earlier this month and comes as Boulder County scrambles to fill the urgent need for affordable housing throughout the region.
In November, the Boulder County Housing Authority (BCHA) received a windfall of applications on the first day they became available, prompting mixed reactions from some officials.
"(We received) 200 applications on the first day," Norrie Boyd, planning division manager for BCHA said at the time. "Which makes me a bit happy and sad because the demand for affordable housing is really difficult for us to manage."
According to 2015's data, listing for one-bedroom units less than $900 per month and two-bedroom units less than $1,800 per month — considered "affordable," at around 30 percent of the average Boulder County renter's $37,789 income — made up less than a quarter of the county's total available apartments.
Boulder Housing Partners, which provides affordable rentals to Boulder residents, predicts that if rents continue to increase at their current pace, by 2020, individuals making less than $30,000 a year will not be able to find a rental unit without housing assistance, according to executive director Betsey Martens.
One Kestrel resident can earn up to $39,840 and qualify to rent one-bedroom apartments in the complex, according to Boulder County guidelines. One-bedroom apartments will rent for $1,063 per month, up to $1,479 for a three-bedroom option.
Two residents can make up to $45,540 and qualify to rent in the complex, according to the Boulder County Housing Authority. A family of four can earn up to $56,880.
"Affordable housing is something that we have been looking at for the past several years as housing prices continue to rise all across Boulder County," Williams said. "The east side of Boulder County has seen tremendous increases in both the cost of purchasing a house and renting an apartment.
"We know that right around 40,000 people live in households where more than half of their income is spent on rent," he added, "and we expect that that has a fairly high concentration in east Boulder County."
Phase one of the project's leasing will be in the mixed-age portion of the community, where 22 homes will lease beginning April 21, and then another 20 homes with start dates on or about May 1, according to Williams.
Phase two will feature another 18 mixed-age homes leasing on or about July 1, and additional leasing phases in the fall will include housing for seniors (71 units) and mixed-age families and individuals (69 units).
Residents who were displaced by the 2013 flood will be given first preference and moved ahead on the wait list for housing in the Kestrel project, officials said. Other preferences will be given to current residents, employees of businesses or governmental entities located in Louisville.
About 1,280 Louisville residents live in poverty, according to the most recent U.S. Census data, and 65 percent of Louisville residents are "rent-burdened," a term attributed to those who spend 30 percent or more of their income on their rent.
With the median monthly rental rate in Louisville hovering around $2,200, according to the latest Boulder County estimates, residents have been quick to jump on much-needed affordable housing.
"The big driving forces behind the cost of housing here in Boulder County is just the general lack of available land to build new housing on and a general lack of affordable housing across the county," Williams said.
Anthony Hahn: 303-473-1422, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/_anthonyhahn
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