ALAMOSA — Willa Williford, a workforce housing consultant, presented the Mosca and Hooper Housing Action Plan to the Alamosa Board of County Commissioners during its regular meeting Wednesday, Sept. 28.
The housing and action plan is part of 13 similar action plans Williford has presented across the valley. Both Fort Garland and Blanca and Hooper and Mosca were coordinated together due to community size and need.
The plan is geared toward expanding education and community outreach (including providing awareness of housing resources available throughout the community); improving existing housing inventory; creating new rental properties; building new homes for sale; and improving infrastructure for future land use and development.
The plan can be implemented by the county, used as guidance or not used at all.
“This is part of a Valley-wide effort, that’s been led by Dawn Melgares and SLVHC looking throughout the whole valley,” said Alamosa Land Use and Building Director Richard Hubler as he introduced Williford to the board. “This is where we have the most opportunity working with housing.”
Williford presented a PowerPoint that outlined the housing plan. Headed by SLVHC, the plan calls for five newly built or rehabilitated homes; five to 10 newly built rental units; building one to two homes for sale in which the price range would be $125,000 to $200,000; and the identification of areas where future development could take place.
The timeline for these goals is roughly three to five years.
Williford said creating new housing opportunities can attract employees and younger people, thus helping spur the economy in Hooper, Mosca and beyond.
“Many of the employers in the community have an urgent need around housing to attract and retain employees,” Williford said. “Across the valley, we identified we’re about 2,000 housing units short. That economic vibrancy is very much tied into our housing inventory and retaining our younger demographic.”
Hubler went on to say that while the plan shows five to 10 new rental units would be built, he hopes that number can be exceeded.
He said there is a property owner in Mosca interested in development who could play a role in building more.
“Five to 10 was the goal we set but my hope is to exceed that especially if I can convince the property owner who wants to build in Mosca to build a couple of duplexes,” he said. “In a really pipe-dream world, maybe the USDA would build a housing project. But that’s their land and their choice.”
One concern brought up by Alamosa County Commissioner Chair Michael Yohn was the lack of infrastructure in both communities, but especially in Mosca.
Yohn pointed out that water, and other municipal services, were lacking. He said that if housing was created to bring in more residents to these areas, these issues would have to be addressed.
“I think the next big thing on the agenda is going to be drinking water,” he said. “If you continue to raise the population there, it’s going to have to be addressed.”
Hubler agreed and said he, too, has put thought into improving infrastructure there.
“The long-term goal probably ought to include at least a community sewer,” Hubler said. “I think a community water system would be excellent if you can control and manage the discharge from the sewer so you’re impacting whatever wells you have there.
“That’s the first win and to me the lowest hanging fruit.”
Alamosa County Administrator Roni Wisdom said that it would make sense financially to look at infrastructure grant funding that will be available.
“I really hope we would use some of this to help Mosca put in the rest of their wastewater treatment system and look at getting some sort of water system there,” she said. “Ten percent local match is a lot but it’s not much for something like this. I think it makes a lot of sense for us to really look at that.”
Wisdom also brought up that many people drive back and forth between Hooper and Mosca and Alamosa.
She said it would benefit families to live closer to where their children go to school and where they’re working.
“Mosca has always been a really tight-knit community that takes care of their people,” she said. “I think if we can figure how to work this out, it makes a lot of sense.”
Wisdom said that she hopes Alamosa County would certainly help Hooper, which she said has a lot less support with infrastructure.
“The town of Hooper does not have the capacity to do anything like this, they just don’t,” Wisdom said. “If we could work with the COG and help them with a grant writer, I’d like to see Alamosa County help them,” Wisdom said. “I think they’re going to need us, dare I say as the big brother helping them along,” Wisdom said.
The commissioners agreed that local governments in both communities should be included in further conversations. The board can now decide what it wishes to do with the study and plan, whether that means it adopts the plan or uses it to develop a different plan.