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Dolores hires affordable housing consultant

The town of Dolores has hired an affordable housing consultant. (Cortez Journal file photo)
Results of 2022 community survey released; winter parking rules kick in

The town of Dolores is moving forward on its affordable housing project.

Town officials reported that Rural Homes, LLC has been selected to provide professional affordable housing planning services for $30,000.

“Rural Homes has a sincere commitment to developing affordable housing for the 60% to 120% average medium income in Norwood, Ridgway and Ouray,” said Rural Homes Manager Paul Major in a letter to Dolores town manager Ken Charles. “We look forward to moving your vision for Dolores toward reality.”

To pay for the planning services, Dolores was awarded a $20,000 Housing Strategies Planning grant from the Department of Local Affairs, and the town provided $10,000.

The Dolores Town Board has identified housing affordability as a priority community issue.

According to a memo on the issue, the town board said it believes it is important “that the people who serve the community, including hourly employees, service industry, law enforcement and fire personnel, construction workers, public lands workers, teachers and other essential workers have the option to live in the community they serve.”

Monteuzma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin, Dolores Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Zion, Dolores Schools Superintendent Reece Blincoe and San Juan National Forest Dolores District Ranger Derek Padilla have all informed town officials that the lack of affordable housing in the area is an obstacle for hiring employees.

“Where we are really seeing an impact is in the number of candidates that are applying for jobs,” Padilla said. “We used to get 15-30 applicants for our positions, but now we are lucky if we can get 2-5 applicants, and it is mostly related to housing costs. For entry level positions, it is a challenge to find affordable housing here.”

In the 2022 Dolores community survey, 74% of respondents agreed that the town should address the lack of affordable housing.

From 2019 to 2022, Montezuma County saw an 84% increase in housing costs, according to the Montezuma County Roadmaps to Recovery Project.

The Dolores Affordable Housing program aims to research and recommend opportunities for individuals and families in the workforce who desire to live in Dolores, and whose earned income is up to 80% to 120% of average medium income.

In Dolores, the medium home price is $379,000.

The annual income needed to support this type of purchase is estimated at $72,633. The average teacher salary at the Dolores RE-4A School District is $41,006.

In 2022, the Montezuma County Area Medium Income was $64,300 per year, according to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.

The 80% AMI is $51,440 annual income and 120% is $77,160 annual income.

The Town of Dolores has donated two vacant lots for affordable housing projects on 19th Street.

It has not been determined whether the affordable homes will be rentals or sold to a person who qualifies for the program.

The Re-1 School District may use funding for an affordable housing project on North Fifth Street. In January, town officials plan to tour an affordable housing project by Rural Homes in Norwood.

A 10-person Dolores Housing Task Force was appointed to address the affordable housing issue.

The board includes Dolores Mayor Leigh Reeves, Board Trustee Sheila Wheeler, Planning Board member Dan Heeney, Planning Board member Melissa Waters, Dolores School Superintendent Reece Blincoe, Dolores State Bank Vice President Larry Engle, Region 9 Economic Development Project Manager Shak Powers, Lainey Beyhan, Jen Stark and Kirk Swope.

Documents on the Dolores Affordable Housing project are available on the town website.

In other Dolores news:
  • The results of a community survey have been released by the Town of Dolores. Residents were asked questions about town attributes, what changes they think are needed, thoughts on town services, and any other comments, issues and concerns. The survey results will be reviewed by the town board and staff to help with town management.
  • The Town of Dolores hosts free high speed Wi-Fi at Joe Rowell Park, 100 Railroad Ave., Dolores, Colorado 81323.
  • Town of Dolores has resumed the parallel parking requirement to allow room for snow plowing. The regulation goes from Nov. 1 to April 30. The regulations require parallel parking on all residential streets except where listed in the ordinance. See the entire section on parking and snow removal in the Dolores Municipal Code for parking.