Housing Innovation Division, ADUs, and Vacation Rentals
The city's Housing Division was recognized by the highest possible award from a national planning association for its partnership with local stakeholders in providing workforce housing units, and specifically for the Animas City Park Overlook Townhomes. This video describing the effort was presented at the Sept. 28, 2023 American Planning Association Colorado Chapter conference.
The 2022 City of Durango Strategic Plan and Operating Plan outlines short- and mid-term objectives, and identifies various initiatives and strategies including Affordability & Economic Opportunity to "Create housing to enhance multigenerational community workforce, as well as attainable and affordable housing overall." This led to the creation of the Housing Innovation Division to bring focused effort to addressing the housing crunch currently facing Durango.
The Housing Innovation Division is responsible for creating, implementing, and administering community housing initiatives towards the goal of maintaining and enhancing quality of life in Durango through the creation and support of housing development. The Division works collaboratively with established community partners and seeks out new partnership opportunities on a local, state, and federal level.
- Direct, plan, and coordinate the City of Durango’s Housing Program.
- Serve as the face of residential housing for the City of Durango and stimulates its growth as a sustainable, equitable community.
- Create and direct overall strategy to strengthen our community’s access to housing and affordability.
- Proactively propose, execute, and evaluate workforce and affordable housing strategies for implementation.
- Identify, negotiate, and secure land acquisitions or depositions on behalf of the City Council where appropriate.
- Prepare and successfully implement the Housing Program Annual Work Plan through demonstrated and measurable action steps and ensure the work is completed in a timely, effective, and fiscally responsible manner.
- Attend community meetings and seek input from diverse groups of community, internal, and regional stakeholders to create housing policies and initiatives to meet the needs of the community and its residents.
- Educate constituents, gather feedback on key issues, create presentations for informational meetings as well as formal public hearings.
The Durango 2018 Housing Plan also establishes goals, priorities, and implementation measures for the Durango Housing Program and serves as the foundational document for the program.
Strategic Initiatives and Housing Work Plan Overview
Housing remains a top priority for City Council and the City of Durango wants to do their part in helping to address the housing shortage and increase affordable and workforce housing inventory with a variety of mechanisms and strategies. The Housing Initiative serves as the foundation for a housing program within the City of Durango to address the city's housing issues. To further the City’s goals and objectives in the Strategic Plan, the Housing Innovation Division’s Initiatives can be categorized in the following program areas:
- New Housing Development
- Preservation of Existing Housing
- Adaptive Reuse
- Housing Policy and Code
- Housing Programs
- Land Acquisition and Land Banking
- Funding Sources
The Regional Housing Needs Assessment & Strategy Study was completed in the fall of 2021 and examined the cross-dependency of housing supply and demand among jurisdictions in the region. This study took a more regional approach to housing strategies to address needs and La Plata County information includes the City of Durango, Ignacio, and the Town of Bayfield.
- Meeting the unmet housing needs identified in the study requires an average annual development of about 310 units, with all these units being for permanent residents. Additional units for seasonal and vacation ownership would be in addition to these units.
- Affordable Housing refers to a unit that has a strong, long-term deed restriction or other guarantee that the unit will be occupied by an individual or household earning 80% Area Median Income (AMI) or less.
- Attainable/Workforce Housing refers to a unit that is not necessarily encumbered by a deed limitation but would most likely be considered accessible to someone earning between 80%-120% AMI simply by the nature of the type of development.
- Market Rate Housing refers to a unit that has no deed limitation which means that pricing will fluctuate based on market conditions. Given the fact that no controls will be in place, staff is assuming that these units will be purchased/rented by individuals and households earning 120% of AMI or greater.
Housing Investment Strategy
La Plata County 3-Year Workforce Housing Investment Strategy (published June 2022 prepared by Project Moxie & Capelli Consulting): This housing investment strategy prioritizes the key steps necessary to maximize the creation of housing affordable to the local workforce across La Plata County. The overarching strategy addresses rental housing, homeownership, a concerted effort to initiate a large-scale housing development, the preservation of existing affordable options, and the creation of a local housing fund. Successful execution of the strategy will require coordinated action across jurisdictions and between public and private sectors. This strategy document is a tool to bridge together a network of housing strategies and it is designed for accessibility.
Staff is tracking Current Residential Projects in Review within the City including initial contact inquiries, design in development, plan review/meetings, approved, and under construction/built and the spreadsheet data is updated biannually.* It is preliminary information and is subject to change during the development review process. Staff is also tracking Current Affordable Housing Units within the City of Durango. This informational data is subject to change and is updated on a semi-annual basis (target June 15th/December 15th).
Affordable Housing Inventory (# of units)
|Affordable Units||Year of Construction|
|Durango Housing, 510 7th Ave.||16||1971|
|Tamarin Square Apartments||67||1979|
|Merced de Las Animas||50||1998|
|Mercy Housing Colorado VI LTD (Behind Ski Barn)||50||1998|
|Westwood Apartments, 60 Westwood Pl||12||1998|
|Valle de Merced||45||2005|
|Cedar View I and II||53||2006|
|Lumien Phase I||50||2015|
|Lumien Phase II||36||2018|
|VOA Senior Housing||53||2019|
|Mtn. Trace Deed Restrictions||9||2019-2022|
Certificate of Occupancy Issued (COs)
Staff is also tracking Certificate of Occupancy Issued on a semi-annual basis.
Affordable Housing Fee Offset Policy
The City of Durango aims to make residential construction less costly and therefore more affordable, has identified cost offsets only for Fair Share developer, as codified in the Land Use Development Code (LUDC) Section 5-4-4-7 Cost Offsets for Fair Share Developers. The resulting housing price discounts should equal or exceed City-funded offsets. Typically, the developer would request fee offsets in a letter to the City Manager, who has the authority to administratively approve certain cost offsets for development fees on qualified affordable housing projects, including planning review fees; building permit fees and use tax; and water taps, if applicable.
The City has expanded to a new Affordable Housing Fee Offset Policy to set expectations, reduce cost barriers to development, and support the production of a variety of housing types. Support of housing production can be through incentives, partnerships, efficient review processes, and other mechanisms with a particular emphasis on middle-income housing. This policy is just of one of several initiatives being developed by the City to create more affordable housing in Durango. Staff presented the new policy to City Council at the Study Session on May 16, 2023.
For More information, please contact Eva Henson, Housing Innovation Manager, by calling (970) 375-5043 or Email.
La Plata Economic Development Alliance Housing Catalyst Fund
The La Plata Economic Development Alliance (Alliance) Housing Catalyst Fund (Catalyst Fund) is a public private partnership to create seed funding to support below market housing development in La Plata County. The Catalyst Fund was initially funded by donations and grants, and administered by a group of community leaders and housing experts.
Catalyst Fund proceeds may be used for a variety of predevelopment costs, including but not limited to project feasibility studies, environmental studies, engineering, architectural, market studies, options, legal fees, soil studies, site preparation, appraisals, surveys, development consultants and other items associated with determining project feasibility.