Garfield County teams with state agency to help homebuyers | AspenTimes.com

Garfield County teams with state agency to help homebuyers

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Hopeful homebuyers in Garfield County, having a hard time arranging financing, might be in luck thanks to a statewide program that offers low-interest bonds to the private investment market.

The Garfield County commissioners this week agreed to turn over an allocation of just over $2.4 million, made available by the state’s Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA).

And the CHFA, according to spokesman Jamie Gomez, will in turn match the Garfield County allocation, making available more than $8.4 million in bonds that are to be used in the county. The matching funds, said Gomez, will come from approximately $85 million in mortgage credit certificates controlled by the DOLA and meant to bolster the budgets of state agencies such as CHFA.

The money, Gomez said, can be used for everything from mortgage assistance for first-time buyers of single-family homes, to developers of multifamily projects for low-income residents, to manufacturing concerns that can provide local jobs. In previous years, however, the money has been used only for home mortgages, as there has been no demand for other uses.

According to information provided by CHFA, the program has pumped more than $6 million into the county in housing loans since 2006. Figures from CHFA indicate that in 2008, the amount actually spent in Garfield County was somewhat less than the amount available, because of lowered demand because of the national economic slump.

But County Finance Director Lisa Dawson said the CHFA would be concentrating more on marketing the availability of the loans, and would be working with county agencies to ensure that the homes are energy efficient.

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ââa€šÂ¬Ã…a€œWe are definitely taking a stronger role in trying to market these bonds,ââa€šÂ¬Ã¯Â¿Â1/2 agreed Gomez, although he said that the housing market remains sluggish due to the ongoing recession, and mortgage companies and banks have yet to loosen their restrictions on mortgage lending.

A profile included in the CHFA packet of information, provided to the BOCC by Dawson, described a couple named Jeffrey and Colleen Smith who reportedly were unable to afford to buy a house and get out of the rental market.

But the couple got hooked up with Habitat for Humanity and CHFA, and were able to obtain a zero-percent mortgage for an 1,800-square-foot home that they then helped to build, providing ââa€šÂ¬Ã…a€œsweat equityââa€šÂ¬Ã¯Â¿Â1/2 as their part of the overall deal, according to the CHFA document.

Statewide, according to CHFA and the DOLA, the program in 2009 provided more than $444 million in bond financing for a variety of projects.

jcolson@postindependent.com