As the “burro bar”– a donkey carrying cold drinks in his satchel– walked around the construction site, those gathered to celebrate 44 new homes at Lazy K in West Gunnison were having a great time. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the homes, built by local developer High Mountain Concepts and the City of Gunnison, was a true celebration of community. The donkey drew kids, adults and dogs alike, curious to pet him and grab a drink, and the taco truck served up delicious food. New neighbors chatted with each other, and with the people that made this neighborhood possible. As the party got under way, the construction crew wrapped up their day, eager to grab a beer and a taco.

Lazy K is a housing success story. The City of Gunnison purchased the land in 2018 and worked with a private contractor to build the project, which was completed in five years. Forty four of the homes are deed restricted based on income, and another 21 will be sold on the free market. The combination of affordable housing and market rate homes signals a new way of developing these types of projects- seamlessly combining the types of housing, rather than segregating the affordable housing. By selling some of the homes at market prices, the developer is able to help pay for the affordable homes, as the material and labor costs are the same regardless of if the home is sold at a lower price.

There are significant financial headwinds for every housing project and support from the Valley Housing Fund helps projects be built faster and better. For the Lazy K project, VHF provided $338,000 in funding which the City of Gunnison leveraged for an additional $1.2 million from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. That money was used for infrastructure like water and sewer lines, critical to getting the homes built on schedule.

At the ribbon cutting celebration on July 21, Gunnison’s Mayor Diego Plata said, “This project is a great example of collaboration and can be a model for other projects going forward.” These 44 new homes are bringing a new vitality to the west end of the City and signify resiliency for our community. When people can put down roots, they contribute to our valley’s success.

In addition to the Lazy K project, there are many new projects in the planning stages to be built over the next five years at both ends of the valley. Finding ways to finance and build additional housing has become a regional priority and new projects are attainable and being planned right now. But, we need the community’s involvement and investment. With your support of our efforts, we can fund new housing projects and achieve resiliency in our valley.