Frequently Asked Questions & Fact Sheets

YVHA / Brown Ranch Fact Sheets

Brown Ranch Fact Sheet

Brown Ranch
Fact Sheet

Brown Ranch – Top 10 Facts

Brown Ranch
Top 10 Facts

YVHA Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet

2023 AMI Fact Sheet

2023 AMI Fact Sheet

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Brown Ranch fact sheet en español

Hoja informativa de Brown Ranch

Los Diez Datos Principales – Brown Ranch

Los Diez Datos Principales – Brown Ranch

YVHA fact sheet en español

Hoja informativa de YVHA

2023 AMI fact sheet en español

Hoja informativa sobre el ingreso medio del área de 2023

The Brown Ranch Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Video Q&A with Jason Peasley and Sheila Henderson

Jason Peasley on why we need the Brown Ranch
Sheila Henderson on how the community has been involved in planning the brown ranch

1. What is the Brown Ranch?

The Brown Ranch is a 534-acre parcel located on the westside of Steamboat Springs in the designated growth area outlined in the City of Steamboat Springs West Steamboat Springs Area Plan written in 1999 and updated in 2006.

A $24 million anonymous donation allowed the the Yampa Valley Housing Authority (YVHA) to purchase the parcel with the intention that it would be designated for workforce housing.

YVHA is working with the City of Steamboat Springs to annex 420 acres of this 534-acre parcel that is within the Urban Growth Boundary.

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2. Why do we need the Brown Ranch?
The extreme lack of affordable housing in Routt County is at crisis levels. The Brown Ranch provides a variety of housing for working people, their families, and those retired from the local workforce because:

  • We need a strong workforce, and in order to make that happen we need housing that people across all income levels can afford.
  • We have a void in our housing market, and if we don’t act now, Steamboat will continue to become more unaffordable for those of us who live and work here.
  • Brown Ranch is consistent with our community’s vision for the future: Steamboat is more than just a resort town. We have a thriving and vibrant community, and we want to keep it that way. Brown Ranch IS our community’s vision for the future. This planned growth was outlined in the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP) which was created in 1999 and renewed in 2006.
  • Having housing of all sizes close to town minimizes commuting and the related impacts and helps people to stay connected to the community in which they work.
  • Brown Ranch will create much needed homes for working families, young professionals, local retirees, downsizers, and more.

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3. How did we get to this affordable housing crisis?

There are many reasons we now have an affordable housing crisis:

  • Homes are expensive: In Routt County in 2022, the median priced single-family home sold for $1,160,000.*
  • Workers cannot afford to buy homes: A local household needs to earn $200,000+ annually to afford a median priced single-family home in Routt County.*
  • Wages do not match home prices: Household buying power for a family of four making 100% AMI($102,300/yr) = $398,000. With the median single-family home price equaling $1,160,000, there is an affordability gap of $762,000.*
  • The cost of housing has increased more than the wages.
    • Housing costs in Routt County are two times the state average.
    • From 2015-2021, home prices grew at about 9-10% per year, while median income grew at a rate of 2.5%.
  • More households are spending more than 30% of their income on housing.
    • In 2019, 27% of households earning between $50,000 – $100,000 paid more than 30% on housing compared to 2014 when 15% of households paid more than 30% of their income on housing.
  • Housing supply shifted to vacation rental properties while home prices skyrocketed, and affordable and attainable housing inventory declined in Routt County.

*Data based off on 2022 area median income, median home price and interest rates.

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4. How does lack of affordable housing impact our economy?

Housing and employment are inseparably linked. Businesses cannot thrive and grow because there is a staff shortage among teachers, nurses, police and service industry workers due to the lack of affordable housing options.

  • Results from a 2023 survey conducted by the Young Professionals Network, as part of the Steamboat Springs Chamber, showed that two-thirds of the people surveyed fear housing costs will force them to leave town. More than 60% said they pay more than 30% of their income on housing, which is the federal recommended standard.
  • According to the Colorado Futures Center, 25–45-year-olds are the fastest declining age group in Steamboat Springs.
  • More young people and families are moving because they cannot afford to live here.
  • Our next generation of business and civic leaders cannot promote growth and vitality in the Yampa Valley while they struggle to find affordable and attainable housing.

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5. What will the Brown Ranch look like?

The new neighborhood will have condos, apartments, single family townhomes and detached single family homes. There will be greenways, trails, parks and a design that encourages walking and biking. 43% of the annexed land will be designated as open space or parks, with another 114 acres north of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) designated as open space for at least 20 years. Working with community partners, the plan is to have services like medical offices, small grocer, childcare, sports fields, etc. The first phase is expected to deliver 110 homes per year for a total of 1100 homes in 10 years.

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6. Why does the Brown Ranch need to be annexed?

In simple terms, density requires urban services. The 2006 West Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP) which was developed by the City of Steamboat Springs and Routt County stated that “an important goal of the plan was to bring housing to the working people of Steamboat Springs.” When density is created, urban services like snowplowing, water and sewer utilities, roads, trails, and parks are needed. The Annexation Agreement lays out the plan for how the City of Steamboat Springs will provide these services and the services will be paid for by YVHA.

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7. How does the annexation agreement reduce risk to Steamboat taxpayers?

  • The Annexation Agreement has performance metrics that YVHA and the City must meet to continue with additional phases.
  • The City will have the ability to discontinue issuing building permits to YVHA unless 420 affordable units are delivered in the first six years of the agreement and an additional 680 units are delivered in the next six years- about 100 units per year.
  • The Brown Ranch will be developed at about the same cadence as YVHA is currently delivering units.
  • The agreement also allows the city to discontinue issuing building permits if funding for the capital expenses are not raised.
  • If the money isn’t there, building will not occur.

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8. What is the cost to Steamboat taxpayers?

There are NO extra costs to Steamboat taxpayers. What YVHA needs to build the Brown Ranch is a community commitment to allocate 75% of the short-term rental tax to the development of the Brown Ranch. This is an existing tax that was approved by 62% of voters in 2022. YVHA will also pursue federal, state, and private philanthropic grants for the build-out of the Brown Ranch.

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9. Will these homes for rent and sale be lived in by locals?

Yes. The deed-restricted units can only be rented or sold to locals who work in Routt County 30+ hours per week or who worked here before retiring. In addition, no short-term rentals will be allowed at Brown Ranch.

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10. How will Brown Ranch impact the water supply of Steamboat?

The City water experts have confirmed that with the City’s current water supply and distribution infrastructure,there is enough water to support the first phase of development.

  • The City of Steamboat Springs also has water rights to the Elk River set aside for future growth.
  • Future phases of the Brown Ranch development will require the construction of an additional water treatment plant which has been in the City’s water redundancy plans for years.
  • YVHA will pay tap fees just like all development in the city. Additionally, Brown Ranch will pay extra tap fees to fund its share of the water treatment plant.

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11. What will the impacts on traffic be?

The Brown Ranch is phased and the impact on traffic will be incremental. US Highway 40 needs to be improved whether or not Brown Ranch is built. Brown Ranch will accelerate the need for those improvements, and YVHA has agreed to fund those highway improvements at a level proportionate to the Brown Ranch impact on traffic.The Brown Ranch Traffic Impact Study shows a need to widen US Highway 40 in four segments between Dream Island Plaza and CR 42 and build or improve key intersections. YVHA has planned to contribute $20 million to the improvement of US40. These improvements will benefit the entire region.

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12. What will YVHA do at Brown Ranch to keep homes affordable and not another high-priced development?

YVHA has a proven track record of providing affordable and attainable housing. Over the past five years, YVHA has invested revenue from the 5A for Homes mill levy to create 471 new affordable workforce housing units at Alpenglow Village, Sunlight Crossing, Anglers Four Hundred, and Mid Valley.

  • The annexation agreement outlines the income levels for housing types, ensuring that prices will be kept at federal guidelines. (see here for Area Media Income rates)
  • For past developments in the Steamboat Springs area, YVHA has utilized federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to subsidize the acquisition and construction of affordable rental housing for low and moderate-income tenants.
  • For-sale housing will remain affordable using a Community Affordability Agreement which functions as a deed restriction.
  • Rental housing will remain affordable using a Use Covenant signed by YVHA and its development partners which limits annual rental increases.

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13. What happens when people buy their homes? Are they still building equity?

YVHA will use deed restrictions to maintain affordability of units.

  • Deed-restrictions are another way YVHA helps local families afford home ownership.
  • YVHA manages approximately 100 deed-restrictions throughout the greater Steamboat Springs area.
  • With high market rate housing, like in Steamboat Springs, a deed restriction ensures the affordability of a specific property now and into the future. The sale of a deed-restricted home is targeted to “qualified owners” who meet specific income, asset, and employment criteria.
  • Buying a deed-restricted unit is not the same as buying a free-market unit. The value of the property is generally indexed to the growth of local wages and not to the broader housing market. This results in less value appreciation compared to free-market homes.

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14. What is the proposed timeline for build-out?

There will be about 100 homes built per year. Phase one envisions 1100 homes over ten years. Full build-out will be over about 20 years.

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15. Is there a well-thought out plan to build out the Brown Ranch?

Yes. YVHA took over a year working with industry experts as well as soliciting community input to develop what is called the Brown Ranch Community Development Plan. It is a plan designed by and for the community. Here is the roadmap that created the plan:

  • Steering Committee: 20 applicants, out of a pool of 90 people, were selected to serve on the Steering Committee. They were a true snapshot of our community, representing a variety of skill sets, viewpoints, and demographics. They immediately went to work to create an overall vision, along with the guiding principles for the development. They took their responsibility very seriously as they accepted and honored the opinions of all members equally. The Steering Committee met more than 20 times and became the voice for reconciling difficult decisions throughout the planning process.
  • Community Input: Over 4000 community members participated in 220+ community meetings thus far creating a historically transparent process. The information gathered at these community meetings were incorporated into the Community Development Plan.
  • Focus Teams: YVHA brought together experts and community members to develop guiding principles for key areas in the Plan:
    • Housing and Non-Residential Demand
    • Natural and Built Sustainability
    • Urban Design
    • Infrastructure
    • Stewardship & Project Economics
    • Health Equity
  • Experts: YVHA worked with the architectural design firm, Mithun to craft the final Community Development Plan. Mithun’s approach is holistic and interdisciplinary encompassing architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, urban design and planning. In addition to Mithun, YVHA hired experts to develop an Energy Master Plan and a Wildfire Resiliency Plan and YVHA received funding to develop a Slate Creek Restoration plan.
  • Feedback: In order to get expert feedback on the Community Development Plan, YVHA invited the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to give recommendations on how to implement the Community Development Plan. They provided YVHA a report, that YVHA has implemented.

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16. Who will build the Brown Ranch?

YVHA has entered into an agreement with The Michaels Organization, one of the largest affordable housing developers in the United States to provide both the horizontal construction and initial rental home construction. Working with a development partner is what YVHA has done for all its projects like The Reserves, Alpenglow, Sunlight Crossing, Anglers, and Mid Valley.

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17. How does safe and secure housing contribute to a community’s health?

Safe, stable, affordable housing plays a major role in one’s ability to lead a healthy, self-sufficient, and productive life. The design of the Brown Ranch embraces health equity, meaning that every person can attain their full health potential, and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.”

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18. What is AMI?

Area Median Income (AMI)

  • Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annually calculates AREA MEDIAN INCOME (AMI) This estimates median family income for every area of the country. Half of the family incomes are above the median and half are below the median. These estimates are used to calculate various income limits which are defined as percentages of the median family income. AMI varies by the number of persons in a household.
  • AMI is the metric the Yampa Valley Housing Authority (YVHA) uses to determine eligibility for all our communities and programs. YVHA also follows the traditional rule that monthly housing costs should be no more than 30% of one’s monthly gross income (i.e., income before taxes). Data for the entirety of Routt County is included in the AMI information YVHA uses. In 2023, the Routt County AMI increased by almost 6%.
    HUD defines LOW INCOME is anyone whose income is below 80% AMI
  • Local examples include our friends and neighbors who are elementary and preschool teachers, restaurant and grocery store workers, lift operators, bus drivers, and patient/medical assistants. HUD defines MIDDLE INCOME as anyone whose income falls between 80-120% AMI
  • Local examples include our friends and neighbors who are nurses, firefighters, and sworn police officers.

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We know we need 1,400 housing units now for existing workers.

Businesses, schools, the hospital, and non-profits cannot hire the staff they need because there is no housing workers can afford.

In anticipation of the future needs of the Steamboat Springs, the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan identified the west side of town for growth.

That is why they created the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) in 1999.

The first phase of Brown Ranch is envisioned to deliver 1,100 units in the next ten years.

The existing short-term rental tax, if dedicated to the Brown Ranch, will allow YVHA to leverage local funds to gain federal, state, and private grants.

In the state of Colorado, any new tax needs to be approved by voters.

The agreement includes the ability for Steamboat Springs to deny building permits at Brown Ranch if the City cannot fund its share of offsite infrastructure expenses, primarily US Hwy 40 improvements.

According to City Attorney Dan Foote, “…There is absolutely 0% chance that the annexation agreement will cause the city to become insolvent or bankrupt…”

The Annexation agreement has strict guidelines to ensure that YVHA meets its obligations to build affordable housing, construct parks, trails, and community spaces, and contribute significant funding to city-wide infrastructure.

For example, during peak commuting hours, traffic on US Hwy 40 west of downtown is a challenge that needs to be solved now, with or without Brown Ranch.

YVHA will contribute $20 million dollars through short term rental tax revenue to the City to pay for the share of impacts Brown Ranch will have to traffic on US Hwy 40.

This diversity of housing types available to all types of local workers – teachers, nurses, cooks, construction workers and more – will create housing choices and encourage housing mobility through life changes.

The current plan based on a third-party, independent demand study is:

60% rental units and 40% ownership units with the following types:

  1. 65% apartments and condos
  2. 22% single family townhomes
  3. 13% single family homes

More than 40% of the annexed land area is dedicated to parks and open space, including an extension of the Core Trail from Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park to Silver Spur. There will be no short-term rentals or second homes at Brown Ranch.

Rental units will have restrictions on annual rent increases tied to Area Median Income, which means they will not pay more than 30% of their income.

Ownership units will be deed restricted to limit appreciation while accounting for capital improvements and sweat equity owners put into their homes.

YVHA already manages deed restricted homes in Steamboat.

The master plan for Brown Ranch was developed after input from more than 3,500 individuals at 230 meetings as well as with other community stakeholders over 15 months.

YVHA created the Brown Ranch plan with the community, long before seeking development partners for public-private partnerships to build infrastructure and housing at Brown Ranch.

The City’s existing water rights are sufficient to serve Brown Ranch. After the first phase of Brown Ranch is completed in approximately 10 years, the community will need a new water treatment plant. This plant will benefit the entire community by providing redundancy for the City’s water supply in case of wildfire in the Fish Creek basin.

YVHA will provide most of the funding for this facility, in addition to paying tap fees like all development in Steamboat Springs.