AFFORDABLE HOUSING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY DOES BOULDER NEED AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
The City of Boulder has a high-cost real estate market due to many factors.
• As of November 2017, one-bedroom apartments in Boulder rented for $1,798 a month on average (a 18.3% increase from last year) and two-bedroom apartment rents average $2,109 (a 16.31% increase from last year). For housing to be considered affordable at these rents, a single person in a one-bedroom apartment would have to earn $54,000 per year, a rate above what many entry level, retail, service or teaching jobs pay.
• As of October 31, 2017, the median price of homes listed in Boulder was $795,000.
• Where there is job pressure or economic opportunities for people, there is pressure on housing supply and prices. This is certainly true for Boulder. In 2016 Colorado was the second-fastest growing state in the US at 1.9 percent, and the trend shows no signs of abating.
• Boulder is a particularly desirable place to live due to its climate, outdoor recreation opportunities, low unemployment rate, marijuana legalization, etc.
• Competition for limited inventory of housing that comes from many sectors: high tech companies and start-ups, government labs, outdoor industry businesses, marijuana entrepreneurs, University of Colorado staff and students, and everyone else
• Housing development doesn’t happen quickly in Boulder. It is impacted by restrictions that include conservation of open space, height and building restrictions, and other policies that keep Boulder from being “overbuilt”.
Thistle offers nearly 900 permanently affordable, quality rental and ownership homes in Boulder County. We are proud to provide stewardship of these community assets and preserve them for the future.
WHAT IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
Housing is considered “affordable” by real estate experts and mortgage lenders when renters or homeowners spend about one-third of their income on housing expenses. By paying a reasonable amount for housing, renters and homeowners are better able to afford food, transportation, medical bills and other necessary costs. For example, if you earn $3,000 per month and your rent is $1,000 per month, this is an affordable amount for you.
Low-income housing differs from affordable housing. For example, if your income is $1,000 per month, one-third of your income is $333. At this rent amount in Boulder County, you may not be able to find a home to rent. At very low incomes such as $12,000 per year, a person will most likely need a government voucher called a Section 8 (discussed below) or a rent-restricted apartment which is generally managed by the local housing authority. Very few low-income homeownership options exist; Habitat for Humanity homes are one example.
To keep rents low and affordable for low-income households generally there is a financial subsidy in the unit – funds provided mainly by government investments when the property was acquired or renovated that will never be repaid. A covenant or deed of trust preserves the property’s affordability into the future. The owner of affordable properties, such as Thistle, must report back to the investors on a regular basis and investors regularly inspect the properties.
WHO LIVES IN THISTLE AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
People who live in affordable housing are the people that you see every day: your hairdresser, doctor’s assistant, restaurant waiter, library worker or your child’s school teacher. In 2016, the average Thistle Household earned $26,146 or 34% AMI for a two-person household.
In Thistle’s 651 apartments, over two-thirds of our tenants are working adults and their families. In those 651 households, 152 households or 23% have a disability; 213 households or 33% have a Section 8 voucher. Over 285 children aged 12 and younger and 96 teens between 12 and 17 live in Thistle properties.
HOW DO I QUALIFY?
Due to the agreements placed by investors on Thistle properties, we must income qualify residents at or below the amounts agreed to in the covenants. All residents must income-qualify to live in a Thistle home: currently the maximum income a one-person household can earn in a Boulder County rental is $41,760 which is 60 percent of the Area Median Income. The maximum allowable amount increases with each additional family member.
The 100% Area Median Income (AMI) in Boulder County is $68,800 for one person in 2017. AMI means half of the county’s residents earn less than that amount and half earn more.
Income restrictions vary by property and by individual unit. Please call our leasing staff at 303.443.0007 to discuss.
All potential renters must fill out an application, provide $25 per person applying (per adult), and financially be able to pay the stated rent. Tenants’ rent-to-income ratio must not exceed 40%.
To qualify to live in Thistle homes, very low-income households may need to apply for a Section 8 voucher.
WHAT IS SECTION 8?
Section 8 is a Federally funded rental assistance program that is administered through local housing authorities. The program serves low-income families, elderly individuals and persons living with disabilities.
WHO MANAGES SECTION 8 IN BOULDER COUNTY?
• Boulder Housing Partners
• Boulder County Housing and Human Services
• Longmont Housing Authority
• Colorado Division of Housing
• Mental Health Partners
• Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
• Center for People with Disabilities
Note: Thistle does not distribute or qualify individuals for Section 8 vouchers.
HOW IT WORKS
• Both Boulder and Longmont use a lottery system for assigning new vouchers. You must enter the lottery which is open for a brief period once per year.
• In the city of Boulder, local preference is given to your household if a member, 18 years or older, lives or works within the city limits of Boulder. (For example: Longmont and Lafayette are in Boulder County so no preference is given.). Preference is given to households that are elderly (62+), are families with children or you or a member of your household is a person with disabilities.
• Potential voucher holders must submit an application and qualify. HUD only allows assistance to be paid for those members of the household who are lawfully present in the U.S.
• The Maximum Annual Income for applicants: Section 8 vouchers are at 50% AMI or $44,750 for a family of three. There is no minimum income requirement.
• The voucher is issued to the resident with a standard payment based on family size and composition.
• The resident’s rent portion is approximately 30% to 40% of the resident’s monthly adjusted income.
• People with Section 8 vouchers find their own apartments and pay a percentage of their income towards rent; the Section 8 program pays the remainder of the rent directly to the Landlord.
• Applicants must qualify with most of the same requirements as applicants without a voucher.
• The resident must sign a Thistle lease and all addendums.
• The resident is responsible for securing their own security deposit.
HOW DO WE KEEP OUR COMMUNITIES SAFE?
Thistle’s Longmont properties are certified in the Crime Free Multi Housing program. The purpose of the program is to develop a strong partnership between the Longmont Police Department and multi-family apartment communities to reduce criminal activity, reduce the fear of crime, and enhance the quality of life for citizens. This program is widely used in 40 states and Canada. The Crime Free logo (shown here) on a building alerts criminals and renters that the property is in the program.
HOW IT WORKS
To become Crime Free certified, an apartment owner/manager must complete the following three steps.
First, a community representative must attend an eight-hour training from the police department Crime Free specialists on such issues as eviction, rule-making, drug and fraud issues. Attendance is required every other year.
Second, the property must meet the basic requirements of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) on-site survey. During a CPTED survey, basic lighting, landscape and security (door and window locks) features are checked by a member of the Longmont Police Department. The CPTED requires modifications to the physical environment to reduce criminal activity and the fear of crime in an apartment community.
Third, every two years management is required to hold a community meeting,
where all employees, owners, tenants and management are invited. A Crime Free Officer also attends the meeting, which is an open forum where employees and tenants can voice their concerns about public safety within the apartment community. The Crime Free Officer provides attendees with statistical information, crime trends, crime prevention tips, etc. to help make the apartment community safer.
After completing these three steps, the apartment community receives a certificate from the City of Longmont Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, and receivse signs with the Crime Free Logo. The signs let law-abiding tenants know that management has taken this step to make the community safer as well as let criminals know that they are not welcome.
The Crime Free Multi Housing program in the City of Longmont requires management to have tenants sign a “crime free lease addendum.” If the addendum is violated, management has the right to proceed with immediate evictions of problem tenants. Consultation and contacts with a Crime Free Officer are provided and encouraged. The current program also asks that management complete a full background and credit check of prospective tenants which is current Thistle policy.
Thistle has seen the results of this program in our properties. For example, since Thistle purchased 1200 Kimbark Apartments in December 2014, police calls have decreased from 10 per month to the present three per month as reported by the Longmont Police Department. Single mom Sarah P. who lived at Kimbark before Thistle purchased it, said, “Since Thistle took over, there were lots of arrests, cops took out the drug community, it’s now a drug free zone. I love living in a nearly new apartment.”
The Crime Free program has built a valuable partnership between the Longmont Police Department and Thistle and is an excellent example of what these
partnerships can accomplish.
The City of Boulder Police Department has established the Neighborhood Policing Area Program, which involves a collaborative process among police officers, community members and business owners in an effort to build vibrant livable neighborhoods. Neighborhood police officers will attempt to contact as many residents and business owners as possible in order to introduce themselves and provide information about the policing.
In addition, the officers will:
• Act as liaison between the neighborhood and various city departments
• Assist with neighborhood events if available
• Assist with education, crime prevention and specific problems
• Attend neighborhood/HOA meetings if invited
• Track problems and crimes that require repeated response
• Follow-up with residents and businesses after major events
To find out your neighborhood officers’ contact information, click here.