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Affordable housing project in Mancos receives funding

An affordable housing project in Mancos got construction funding from the Department of Local Affairs. (Journal file photo)
Two-story duplex will serve as workforce housing for low-income renters

Two low-income, working families will benefit from an affordable housing project in Mancos.

The town of Mancos, in partnership with the Mancos Conservation District, was awarded a $531,700 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Innovative Housing Opportunities Incentive.

The funding will be used to construct a two-story duplex on an empty lot in town on the corner of Bauer Avenue and Willow Street.

The property is owned by the Conservation District and was provided for the project to help address the housing shortage in Mancos, said executive director Gretchen Rank.

“It will be for workforce housing, a critical need in this area,” she said.

The duplex is divided into two 1,500-square-foot homes, each with two to three bedrooms and one to two bathrooms.

Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and be completed by 2024.

The duplex will be owned by the Conservation District and rented out to low-income residents in the workforce who are employed in Mancos or within the boundaries of the district.

When construction is complete, there will be an application process announced to choose renters who qualify based on state affordable housing regulations and income levels.

The costs of the rentals has not yet been determined, but will be based on state parameters for affordable housing in the Mancos area. The goal is to keep the rates affordable long term.

A recent Mancos surveys showed it is challenge to work in Mancos and also afford housing, Rank said.

There is a severe shortage of affordable rentals in Mancos, and with high home prices, most workers are simply out priced for the current market housing market. In 2022, the median home price in Mancos was $448,000, up 14% from 2021, according to Zillow.com.

This affects residents who have to travel to Cortez, Durango or farther to work, is a problem for local businesses who can’t afford wages needed for a worker to rent or buy a home in the Mancos area.

Despite obvious benefits of living in the area, the idea of a 30-to-75-mile commute is just not affordable for many families, Rank said.

The most often cited the reason for a lack of growth among local businesses in Mancos is the inability to find and retain employees.

“We see it in the agricultural sector as well,” Rank said. “Ranch hands and farmworkers are harder to come by because of the lack of worker housing.”

The affordable housing project also aligns with the Mancos goal of developing vacant lots in town before expanding its boundaries.