DougCo super explores attainable housing options

Suzie Glassman

By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) Earlier this month, DougCo superintendent Erin Kane presented the first of what could be several creative proposals to secure attainable housing for the district’s teachers and staff.

Acknowledging that the DougCo school district struggles to pay its employees competitive wages, Kane said that she and her team have looked for creative options to attract and retain the district’s educators.

“The starting teacher salary is $43,680. There’s nowhere in Douglas County that someone who makes $43,680 can live,” said Kane.

As a result, Kane said they are reviewing some of the district’s assets as potential opportunities, like land where they can’t build a school. In those cases, she said there might be options to partner with a developer, housing authority, lender, and tax equity partner to build attainable housing.

Kane’s presentation included an example of what that partnership could entail. Yet, she cautioned that nothing is in the works, and the purpose of the discussion was for the board of education to determine if the district should continue researching housing solutions.

Shea Properties proposal

DougCo chief operations officer Rich Cosgrove said Shea Properties, a diversified real estate company, recently approached the district with a proposal to construct “income-restricted, for-rent housing on the county's dedicated school site in the Meridian Village subdivision.”

In the proposed partnership, DougCo would provide a 10.3-acre parcel of land (seven usable acres) in the Meridian Village subdivision at fair market value. Rent from the housing development would then pay for the land plus interest.

Shea Properties would design the project and secure the necessary government approvals.

The DougCo Housing authority would issue the tax-exempt bonds that an equity partner would buy to fund the development. A bank lender would give a construction loan, and Shea Properties would build and manage the property.

Cosgrove said the housing would be a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units with 30 years of affordability. However, Shea Properties has yet to confirm if it can prioritize renting to DougCo school employees based on federal and state guidelines for low-income housing.

It’s unclear what would happen if a renter leaves the school district or gets a substantial bump in pay. And Cosgrove doesn’t know who will get the return on the land’s investment.

Next steps

The board of education “unofficially” directed Kane and Cosgrove to go forward and research all potential options. An official order would require a vote, but several directors expressed gratitude to Kane and Cosgrove for pursuing this path.

“It’s important to shed light on these issues,” said Kane. “These aren’t people coming from outside of our county looking for attainable housing. They are the people working with our children every single day.”

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Denver, CO

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