GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Tuesday night at the R-5 High School, during the school board meeting Tom Parrish and George Rau, the leaders of School District 51’s New Affordable Teacher Housing Exploration Committee expressed the issue of affordable housing for teachers in Mesa County.

“What we found as we went through this is that everyone (around Colorado) is providing affordable housing for their employees, whether it’s nurses in hospitals or teachers in schools,” Parrish said. “The big ‘aha’ was, if we don’t do it, we’re going to be behind because everyone else is jumping on this initiative.”

The Affordable Teacher Housing Exploration Committee also includes Abe Herman of the Grand Junction City Council, Christi Reece of the Christi Reece Group, Phil Onofrio, a retired school financial officer, Adam Roy of Headwaters Housing Partners, administrative staff from District 51, Eric Anderson and Gi Woodard-Moon, and community member Lonny White.

The Grand Community Development Committee, Cherry Creek Mortgage, Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority, Crested Butte Land Trust, Home Loan Bank, Legacy Appraisals, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Mesa County Habitat for Humanity, District 51 Foundation, Headwaters Housing Partners, FCI, Servitas, and the Mesa County Community Development Committee are just a few of the organizations the committee has so far utilized into for greater collaboration.

The committee’s upcoming stages, according to Parrish and Rau’s presentation, are to create a standing committee for teacher and staff housing, develop guidelines for moving forward in a quick and efficient, and accessible way, conduct detailed analyses for teacher and staff housing, and requirements for participation, find land for development, look into construction financing options, establish program parameters, and design and develop projects that maintain long-term affordability.

The District 51 Hawthorne Townhomes at 410 Hill Ave. in Grand Junction served as an example of what potential affordable housing for teachers and employees may like, according to the two.

The school district owns the 0.5-acre lot, which contains departmental facilities. In return for less privacy and space, the committee’s chosen townhouse typology combines lesser maintenance requirements in typical downtown residential areas at a cheaper price range than a traditional single-family home. In order to allow for ownership instead of rentals, each apartment would be condominium-sized, together with any storage and parking spaces.

The committee’s upcoming stages for investigating the Hawthorne property for teacher ownership housing will be to look at previous cases and further study the unit layouts as well as storage and parking remedies. The committee will also conduct a preliminary hearing with both the Grand Junction Planning and Zoning Department to analyze the concept of the project and its achievability.