AFFORDABLE HOUSING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHY BOULDER NEEDS AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Housing costs in Boulder County are soaring! It’s part of a nationwide trend: in areas where jobs are available, but housing is scarce, home rental and purchase prices are going up, up, up. And that certainly describes Boulder County!

Deed Restricted Affordable homes
Pictured is Rosewood, a neighborhood of 18 homes in North Boulder — eight of them affordable — developed by Thistle and Allison Management

SmartAsset analyzed home values (for growth and stability) every quarter between 1994 and 2018 throughout the U.S. Boulder claimed the top spot on the list for the fifth year in a row. Because people are coming to Colorado and to Boulder County for jobs (in high-tech companies, start-ups, government labs, outdoor industry businesses, the legal marijuana trade, and higher education) and for quality of life as characterized by its clean environment, high ratings for outdoor recreation, business freedom, safety and healthcare, it means that housing is greatly sought after and therefore it is a very competitive/expensive place to buy or rent, when there is availability.

 The price of a single-family home has more than doubled in the past 15 years. There’s not a community left in Boulder County with a median home price below $400,000. (Source:  Community Foundation Boulder County/ commfound.org/TRENDS)

As of October 2019, the average rent for one-bedroom apartments in Boulder was $1,781 a month and a two-bedroom apartment rents for an average of $2,137. And home buying is no easier as the median price of homes for sale in Boulder was $752,500.

HOW DOES THISTLE HELP? 

Thistle plays a significant role in addressing this housing crunch, offering over 50 high-quality, permanently affordable rental and ownership homes in locations around the county. As of November 2019, Thistle apartment rents ranged from $523 for a studio to $1,772 for a 3 bedroom. See our currently available listings here. And Thistle continues to seek opportunities to develop new affordable rental and homeownership possibilities for Boulder County residents. Watch our website/Facebook etc. for the new projects that are being developed!

DOES THISTLE OFFER TEMPORARY OR EMERGENCY HOUSING?

People No. Thistle does not offer temporary or emergency housing. You may contact the Emergency Family Assistance Association of Boulder (EFAA) for assistance.

HOW LONG ARE YOUR LEASES?

Generally, we offer one-year leases.

WHO LIVES IN THISTLE AFFORDABLE HOUSING?

People who live in affordable housing are the people you see every day: your child’s schoolteacher, your hairdresser, the doctor’s assistant, a restaurant server, or library worker.

They are families and individuals who earn a maximum of 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) which currently is $48,360 for one person and $91,200 for a family of eight.

WHAT ARE THE ID REQUIREMENTS?

You need a government-issued ID card and a social security card in order to apply.

HOW DO I QUALIFY?

Because of agreements we have with the investors in Thistle properties, we must qualify all residents as having income at or below a certain level of the Average Median Income (AMI) for our area. The maximum income for a one-person household is 60% of the current AMI. The maximum allowable amount increases with each additional family member. Tenants’ rent-to-income ratio must not exceed 40%.

More specific income restrictions vary by property and by individual unit. Please call our leasing staff at (303) 443-0007 to discuss if you qualify or take the questionnaire to see if you qualify here.

All potential renters must fill out an application, provide $25 per for each adult applicant, and show that they are financially able to pay the stated rent.

Before our leasing agents can show you an apartment or give you an estimate of your rent, you must first fill out the prescreening form, found here. Once we receive your form, the staff makes a preliminary assessment to see if you prequalify. Our goal is to get back to you within three to four business days. Once you are qualified, the leasing agents will let you know you’ve been approved. The Community Manager will then call to schedule your move-in date and lease signing.

To qualify to live in Thistle homes, very low-income households may need to apply for a Section 8 voucher, which we’ll discuss below.

I HAVE A FELONY ON MY RECORDS. CAN I STILL QUALIFY?

Thistle will review your situation against our criminal background policy. Generally, applicants with violent or sexual offenses will not qualify. Please note: Thistle must follow federal, state and local requirements which determine the qualifications for admittance to affordable housing.

“WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “AFFORDABLE” AND “LOW-INCOME” HOUSING?

Thistle is a provider of “affordable” housing. Housing is considered “affordable” by real estate people and mortgage lenders when renters or homeowners spend no more than one-third of their income on housing, leaving them enough income to pay for food, transportation, medical costs, and other expenses.

What’s called “low-income housing” is for people for whom devoting one-third of their income to housing gives them no viable options in a local housing market. For example, a person or family whose income is $1,000 per month would find no rentals available for one-third of their income ($333) in our area. These are their options:

  • Their best rental option is to apply for assistance through a federal government voucher program called Section 8 (discussed below) or in a rent-restricted apartment (these are generally managed by a local housing authority).
  • Someone hoping to buy at this income level would also have no local options (except perhaps by competing for the few homes offered through subsidized home-buying programs like Habitat for Humanity).

WHAT ARE SECTION 8 VOUCHERS?

Section 8 is a federally funded low-income rental assistance program offered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered through local housing authorities.  The program serves low-income families, elderly individuals and persons living with disabilities.

Thistle does not distribute or qualify individuals for Section 8 vouchers. But these local organizations do. Check with these organizations and agencies for how you can see if you qualify for Section 8 vouchers and for all the other details about restrictions, timing, and process.

  • Boulder Housing Partners
  • Boulder County Housing and Human Services
  • Longmont Housing Authority
  • Colorado Division of Housing
  • Mental Health Partners
  • Imagine
  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

HOW DO WE KEEP OUR COMMUNITIES SAFE?

Keeping our communities safe and crime-free is a high priority at Thistle.

In Longmont, all our properties are certified under the nationwide Crime Free Multi-Housing program. The Crime Free logo (shown here) on a building alerts renters and potential criminals that the property is part of that program. All tenants sign a “crime-free lease addendum” that provides for evictions of problem tenants. Management must complete a full background and credit check of prospective tenants, which is a standard Thistle procedure in any case. This program is working. For example, after Thistle bought 1200 Kimbark Apartments in December 2014, police calls decreased from 10 to three per month. Particular attention has gone toward keeping drug-related activity out of our communities.

Community
Boulder police officers visit Lumine at 28th at National Night Out event of August 1, 2017

In Boulder, The Police Department has established the Neighborhood Policing Area Program, whose aim is to build and maintain vibrant, livable neighborhoods. Neighborhood police officers try to be in touch with as many residents and business owners as possible to introduce themselves and provide information about policing. The officers also act as the liaison between neighborhoods and city departments, assist with neighborhood events, provide education and track and follow up on problems and crimes. For more information: Boulder’s Neighborhood Policing Area program