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HomesFund asks Cortez council for support

Housing assistance program asks for support
A file photo of a house sold in Montezuma County in 2011.

A housing assistance program based in Durango asked the Cortez City Council to support its Montezuma County services during a workshop on Tuesday .

HomesFund is a nonprofit that offers mortgage assistance and classes on home ownership in Montezuma County and four other counties in Southwest Colorado. During a council workshop on Tuesday, the organization’s executive director, Karen Iverson, asked if the council would consider giving as much as $10,000 to HomesFund for their programs within the county. The board members didn’t give her a definitive answer, but they said they hoped to support the nonprofit as much as possible.

“We’ve helped thousands of families up to date,” Iverson said. “Last year, we had three classes here in the community. ...We had seven households come through our advisement program and get counseling from us. Nine households moved into homeownership.”

Many of HomesFund’s current programs are funded by a grant from the U.S. Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which will expire next year. In order to continue offering services like mortgage down payment assistance and “building wealth loans,” Iverson said they will need financial help from local governments, including Cortez. They plan to make formal applications for funds from the city and county this summer.

She said her “ballpark” assumption as to how much the organization would need from the city was $10,000, but she didn’t have concrete figures yet.

Trustee Orly Lucero responded to that number with a half-joking cry of, “Wrong!”

Iverson said La Plata County governments donate a total of about $185,000 per year to HomesFund, so the $10,000 request is “a good deal” by comparison. Both Mayor Karen Sheek and City Manager Shane Hale said it was unlikely the city could donate that much money to a nonprofit, but they would consider it when they the time comes to plan the 2018 budget. Iverson will request funds from the county government and housing authority as well.

In the meantime, HomesFund will hold three more home ownership classes in Cortez this year, with the first scheduled for March 11 at the Chamber of Commerce. Iverson’s goal is to help 20 families buy homes in the county this year.

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