The Brown Ranch Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

1. Who owns the Brown Ranch?

Thanks to the foresight and generosity of an anonymous donor, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority owns the Brown Ranch. Over time, this special place will become a series of vibrant, resilient, diverse, and welcoming neighborhoods. It will provide a wide variety of housing options and services designed by and for the Yampa Valley community. And by delivering long-term affordable housing opportunities for Routt County workers, the Brown Ranch can help preserve the Steamboat character we all cherish.

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2. Who created the vision and guiding principles?

The YVHA initiated a community-led comprehensive planning process by asking interested community members to apply for the Steering Committee. This group was tasked with creating the vision, guiding principles and making the difficult decisions. The 20 Yampa Valley residents who make up the Steering Committee are a true snapshot of our community, representing a variety of skill sets, viewpoints, and demographics. Learn more about the Steering Committee.

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3. What is the vision for the Brown Ranch?

The Brown Ranch residents will live and connect in a vibrant, resilient, diverse, and welcoming neighborhood that provides a wide variety of housing options and services designed by and for the Yampa Valley community. Learn more about the vision.

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4. What principles are guiding the Brown Ranch?

1) Provide affordable and attainable housing options for the Routt County workforce in a timely and efficient manner that meets both urgent and long-term need.

2) Provide quality housing that is sustainable yet flexible, modern, efficient, safe, healthy, environmentally responsible, and in harmony with existing natural systems.

3) Be both physically and emotionally connected to the community, providing opportunity for social cohesion and successful vibrant and healthy lifestyles.

4) The community driven process to design and develop the Brown Ranch will be inclusive, fact-based, honest, cost efficient and collaborative with all relevant stakeholders.

Learn more about the Guiding Principles.

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5. Why are you building the Brown Ranch?

The extreme lack of housing in our community is at crisis levels. Our workforce is in a steep decline and those who don’t already own a home are constantly struggling with housing insecurity. The Brown Ranch gives us the opportunity to build an inclusive and diverse community for local workers. It will provide housing stability; a safe place for families, children and adults; affordability where homes won’t exceed 30% of income; and will give people mobility and the ability to buy, build equity and move up.

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6. What did we hear from the community in regards to design?

Residents wish to prioritize walkability and bikeability over cars. Open space, parks and community gathering places are important for connectivity and community character. Key services such as a school, daycare, food market, and community gardens will be important for sustainability.

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7. Who is eligible to live at the Brown Ranch?

Local workers are eligible to live at Brown Ranch. The workforce is defined as someone who works for an employer physically located in Routt County. One person in the household must qualify (minimum of 30 hours per week) or be retired from the Routt County workforce.

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8. How big is the Brown Ranch?

The total parcel area is 556 acres. However, there are “unbuildable zones”including steep slopes, habitat areas, creeks, encumbrances, parcel setbacks, and geologic hazard areas, and a parcel outside of the Urban Growth Boundary (179 acres total). The remaining developable area within Urban Growth Boundary is 376 acres.

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9. When will the first units be built?

We know that there is a current need for 1400 homes and 2300 units by 2040. The Brown Ranch Steering Committee has discussed building 1200 units in the first phase of construction,, but we are still working on criteria like density, type of housing and percentages of rental properties vs. units to purchase. We hope to have the first phase completed by 2030.

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10. What kind of housing will exist?

There will be multi-family apartments similar to other YVHA projects to single family attached (townhomes) and single family detached. There will be a mix of for rent and for purchase properties. Our consultants are helping determine the number of units needed per Area Median Income (AMI) to fill the needs of the community.

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11. What does AMI mean?

Area Median Income, also known as AMI is the household income for the median/‘middle’ household in a given region. Thus, if you were to line up each household from poorest to wealthiest, the household in the very middle would be considered the median. The middle or median income of an area is utilized to benchmark income levels and highlight the need for programs or services within a given community. The income benchmarks are calculated and adjusted based on family/household size. Therefore a single individual will have a lower income threshold than a family of 4. The vast majority of all federal, state and local housing programs qualify participant eligibility based on income levels. To accomplish this, housing programs utilize the same benchmark of income data released by the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) annually. The income limits/guidelines are calculated using American Community Survey (ASC) data for all regions in the US.

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12. Will there be services like a supermarket, daycare, school, pharmacy, medical clinic?

Yes! This will be a self-sufficient community with a future school site, a food market, access to medical, a daycare center and other retail and nonprofit services. We are currently asking community partners to submit an application with any ideas or needs that they believe will fit well with the vision and principles of the Brown Ranch.

View our Community Partnerships Application.

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13. May I buy a lot and build my own home?

There is no plan to sell lots at this time. The community has said that they prefer as many homes as possible and we know that the more we focus on high density the more residents will be able to have a home which accomplishes our first principle of meeting the urgent need.

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14. How many community members have been included in the planning process?

From the beginning we knew that the Brown Ranch had to be “By The Community, For The Community!” We have held over 200 community meetings with community partners such as Latinx, CMC, nonprofits, Steamboat Springs School District, the SBS Chamber, local businesses, and human service agencies. These meetings have included more than 3300 community members and they are still occurring. Our goal is make sure ALL interested community members have a chance to participate, especially those who tend to be unheard. If you wish to share your thoughts you can still do so by emailing us at info@brownranchsteamboat.org.

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15. How much will the Brown Ranch cost?

Building the necessary infrastructure for the Brown Ranch housing development could require as much as $10 million a year from the Steamboat Springs community over the next 20 years. While the estimated $400 million price tag for infrastructure is crucial for developing Brown Ranch it is a rough estimate that includes $220 millions for roads, water, sewer, and trails and parks. Another $180 million would pay for road improvements around the development, upgrades to the electrical grid and eventually adding another water treatment plant.

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16. Will the Brown Ranch apply for annexation into the city and if so, when will that happen?

As soon as the YVHA has completed the Development Plan for the Brown Ranch. The process could begin as early as this fall and usually takes about a year.

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17. Do we have enough water to support the Brown Ranch community?

Yes! There is currently enough water for phase one and there are future plans for the additional phases.

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18. How are you dealing with additional traffic?

There are a number of ways that we are addressing traffic concerns. First, we are planning to have key services included in the neighborhood so residents don’t have to travel. There will be multiple entrances and exits and we will have public transit to the ranch.

For more information visit the Infrastructure Focus Team Updates.

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19. How has YVHA been able to build low income housing in the community and will they build similar homes at the Brown Ranch?

YVHA has utilized Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) to subsidize the acquisition, construction, and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income tenants. The federal government issues tax credits to state and territorial governments. State housing agencies then award the credits to private developers of affordable rental housing projects through a competitive process. Developers generally sell the credits to private investors to obtain funding. Once the housing project is placed in service (essentially, made available to tenants), investors can claim the LIHTC over a 10-year period.

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20. How will you ensure that homes stay affordable?

The YVHA is looking at different models that have been used successfully in Colorado. They include a variety of Community Land Trusts or Deed Restrictions. We are focusing on maintaining long term affordability along with an element of building wealth so residents are able to move up and create mobility.

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21. What is Health Equity? And how will it play a role in the Brown Ranch?

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.” Every decision that is made during the planning of the Brown Ranch is viewed through a Health Equity lens.

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