An anonymous financial angel has established a pool of at least $500,000 and possibly $1 million to provide low-interest loans to residents of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park, Basalt Town Manager Mike Scanlon announced Tuesday night.
Scanlon said he did not know the identity of the individual or entity. The party established an intermediary who contacted the town on Friday and notified them that the loan pool was being established at Community Banks of Colorado. Scanlon said Assistant Town Manager Judi Tippetts confirmed with bank officials Tuesday that the loan pool exists. The bank and Town Hall were closed Monday for Martin Luther King Day.
The town has been relocating residents of the Pan and Fork’s 35 occupied trailers since last summer. There has been a challenge helping some people secure loans for new housing because they aren’t in the country legally, Scanlon said. The private funds will be available for loans for Pan and Fork residents who can establish need, show that they are working and prove that they have good credit history, according to Scanlon.
“This was really a nice gift at the end (of the process) to help us,” Scanlon said. “It’s also nice to be lucky to have somebody come in and say, ‘We’re willing to help you.’”
He said he was hopeful some solution like this would emerge while the town was negotiating with the residents of the last six trailers, some of whom are protesting being forced out of their homes. He also wants to explore if the funds can be loaned to people who already moved from the Pan and Fork but didn’t get into a satisfactory rental situation or had to take an unfavorable loan to buy something new.
Scanlon said he has repeatedly said in media reports that he is facing challenges finding financing for people who cannot prove they are in the country legally. “If you say it enough, you hope somebody will step up,” he said.
The initial loan pool is $500,000, according to Scanlon. If that is used, he was told the amount will increase to $1 million.
The money will be loaned at prime plus two percent, he said. He didn’t know how long the terms of the loan will be — such as five, 10 or 15 years. The loans can only be used for housing.
Tippetts already is working with the occupants of one trailer to compile the paperwork necessary for a loan to purchase a mobile home in El Jebel, according to Scanlon. He is scheduled to meet tonight with members of a faction of residents who were opposed to the relocation effort. That group is called Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt.
Scanlon said he didn’t have any hunch as to the identity of the person or entity supplying the funds.
“My guess is it’s somebody that knows the area,” he said.