Habitat for Humanity gets OK to build 20 affordable Aurora duplexes for sale in Havana Heights

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Schematic of potential design of Habitat for Humanity project in Aurora. SOURCE: CITY OF AURORA

AURORA | A vacant cul-de-sac in the Havana Heights neighborhood is now set to be the newest site for affordable housing units in Aurora.

A majority of city council members staved off a possible denial and instead approved a rezoning measure during Monday’s regular meeting, allowing for the 20 units to be built in the single-family home neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver plans to build 10 duplexes on the two acres owned by nearby Mountain View United Church. 

Council members Angela Lawson, Alison Coombs, Crystal Murillo, Curtis Gardner, Juan Marcano and Allison Hiltz approved the measure.

Mayor Mike Coffman abstained, as he did during the previous vote.

Residents of the units, dubbed Mountain View Community Homes, will be homeowners. Units will only be sold to homebuyers making up to 80% of the area median income or about $79,000 annually for a family of four, according to the project plan. 

The church is leasing the land to Habitat for Humanity for 99 years. Still, existing neighborhood residents said during two public comment periods they worried about upkeep of the units, how their future neighbors would impact street parking and whether the project would hurt home values for established residents.

“I support affordable housing, just not this affordable housing,” one neighborhood resident said during the public comment section last month.

Each unit would have two off-street parking spaces on the cul-de-sac, according to the site plan. Six of the units would have a single car garage and one driveway parking spot. Habitat for Humanity expects to sell the homes for between $250,000 and $300,000.

The proposed lot for new Habitat for Humanity homes at the corner of East Evans Avenue and South Joliet Street.
Photo by Philip B. Poston

Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver CEO Heather Lafferty said during Monday’s city council vote that these new homeowners “will be exactly the type of people who make Aurora this great city that it is.”

“We qualify people for an affordable mortgage, which is the first step in the process. In addition to that rigorous mortgage qualification process. Homeowners must be disciplined. They save money for closing costs, they stay on budget, they must be hard working. They each contribute 200 hours of sweat equity to help build their homes, and they must be self reliant, which means they attend homebuyer education and financial counseling classes,” she said.

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Publius
Publius
27 days ago

Such a shame that a mutually agreeable solution could not be fashioned.

The residents of that neighborhood had a reasonable expectancy that spot zoning changing the character of their neighborhood would not occur. True, zoning is not absolute, it does not live forever, immutable, but it is a reasonable expectation. City Council ignored that expectation, and why?, because it allowed them to accomplish a goal, a laudable goal, but to accomplish that laudable societal goal not at the cost of our city community as a whole, but rather on the backs of those in this small community, this neighborhood. If the benefit is society-wide, so too should be the expense, or so I would argue.

The argument here was that absent maximizing the number of home to be built the development could not be accomplished economically, and of course it is that maximizing which impacts the neighborhood as the denisty creates traffic and use concerns and changes the character of the neighborhood. Well it is clear that the costs of the homes to be provided depends on the cost of installing sidewalks with the project and with the lease cost for the land. Change those parameters and an accomodation can be reached.

As for the cost of the sidewalks why could the city, and perhaps the county and the state, maybe even federal dollars have been accesssed to put in that infrastrucure? That would have spread the cost of this project out society-wide. It would have allowed for fewer homes but at a similar cost. We all could share the cost rather than this one neighborhood.

As for the ,church who argued it was their Christian duty to provide this land I noticed that their Christain duty allowed them to monetize the vacant lot, and richly so. Had they really believed in a need to be charitable they could have donated the land or reduced the lease costs such that they would actually be sharing some of the burden here. Instead they achieved an income stream in near perpetuity. That is fine, but then don’t act as if charity starts at home as clearly their motive here is open to interpretation. They want to force charitable giving upon the neighborhood while they have monitized their asset. Had the church been more cahritable themself that would have allowed fewer homes, less congestion, but still allowed for the economics needed to make this project practical.

None of the above took place. Rather the neighbors, the community who will bear the economic cost of having their properties now viewed in a different light, who will bear the burden of congestion that comes with this project were portrayed negatively for being copncerned about these factors. Some excoriated them for wanting to continue a lifestyle they had built. Some portrayed them as intolerant with an underlying current of xenophobia and racism mixed in simply because they wanted the use in that neighborhood to remain constant. Where were the voices who could have forged a reasonable compromize? Where were the voices who could have articulated real vision for ther community? Those voices were not on cityh council. They were not coming from the church. They were nowhere to be found at habitat for Humanity. They were absent from the editorial staff of this newspaper.

Coco
Coco
27 days ago
Reply to  Publius

The church isn’t getting any money from this project. You have made that up. Check it out if you don’t believe that. And a couple of dozen extra cars are going to ruin your neighborhood? I don’t think that qualifies as congestion. My great-grandfather used to say, “If you don’t want to do something, one reason is as good as another.” The need for affordable housing in this town is so great, these 20 new options are a tiny drop in the ocean of need. Good for the city and church for having the vision and will to actually do something creative and beautiful and helpful.

Publius
Publius
27 days ago
Reply to  Coco

I appreciate being correctedif I misstated the facts. Perhaps the lease of the property for 99 years brings no income. If so my apologies to the church. If this was a complete donation of the land, kudos to them. I don’t understand why a complete donation would be made through a lease with an term certain, 99 years, but I suppose it is possible.

As for this being my neighborhood, it is not, not remotely.

Also, I am not advocating no such project there, just one a bit more in character with the neughborhood. I was, and am advocating a compromize providing the housing while minimizing its impact, a bit more. I am also advocating sharing of the cost beyond that neighborhood, to my own in fact and others as well by having some tax dollars susidize some parts of the development, the sidewalks, so that this subsidy does not come exclsively from this project with those costs then incorporated into the cost of the homes for the new residents.

Molly markert
Molly markert
27 days ago

Cheers to the council members who can see solutions for the future!!

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
27 days ago
Reply to  Molly markert

So much for neighborhood property rights. We’ll be able to watch how this works in the future except it will be forgotten by the time this project can be fairly evaluated. IF I lived close to this neighborhood, my home would be on the market right away. But there is an answer for the neighbors, sell your home now!

Molly, you told me you were out of politics early this year. Glad that statement was not exactly correct.

Curtis, being the only conservative, voting with all the socialists, again, is not a good way to be re-elected. I’m thinking maybe you’re not up for re-election. We’ll see how this works out for you.

Publius
Publius
27 days ago

Respectfully, Ms. Markert, a solution for the future would have been one which did not pit neighbors against those in need, but which brought the two together, collaboratively. A solution for the future would have been a project a bit more integrated with the existing community. Change, sure, but more incremental, less stark.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
27 days ago
Reply to  Publius

Neighbors, or people in generally will henceforth and forever pit themselves against the needy because they have made it a political issue. Once an issue has been politicized, all hope of resolution is lost. It’s why we are floundering as a nation and as a society today. Too bad for us.

Doug King
Doug King
27 days ago
Reply to  Publius

what would that solution have been? I don’t believe I saw any one offer anything but “I support affordable housing, just not this affordable housing,”

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
27 days ago

Without giving this proper consideration, some brilliant people think this would be housing for homeless people or that this would be “Section-8” housing. It’s nothing like that at all. There are “affordable” housing buildings and projects all over the Metro, and we have not heard complaints about any of them.

As a retired senior on low income, I myself am looking at affordable housing for seniors. The problem is, there are typically 2-year waiting lists to get into those buildings, and, with cancer, I may not have 2 years. Maybe I could get into one of these units, though, in my condition, I doubt I could contribute any manual labor toward its construction. Yet and still, the folks in the area of these duplexes could not ever hope to have a better neighbor. The guy who spoke out so reactively against this project is someone none of us wants to have as a neighbor. Guaranteed.

Bob
Bob
26 days ago

Let me see if I’ve got this right. The church leases the land for 99 years to Habitat for Humanity. Then Habitat will, develop, build and finance the project. No real land interest ownership is evident to someone looking. What exactly is Habitat’s tangible
interest they will transfer by deed? This is about as cobbled up of a land deal as we have ever seen. 99 years, of a make-believe mortgage, does that mean this is a multi-generational 99 year contract? This is absolutely bizarre.