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Teller County Habitat for Humanity takes an innovative approach to affordable housing 

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click to enlarge Celebrating innovative TCHH condominiums - HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF TELLER COUNTY
  • Habitat for Humanity of Teller County
  • Celebrating innovative TCHH condominiums
Finding affordable housing can be a challenge for many people in the Pikes Peak region. Housing demand is experiencing enormous growth and inventory is down, resulting in rising home prices and high rental costs.

In areas like Teller County, where jobs close to home are largely service-related, residents can feel particularly pinched by the combination of increasing costs and static wages. Teller County Habitat for Humanity (TCHH) knows firsthand how the affordable housing shortage is impacting residents — and it's working to change it for the better.

TCHH provides an alternative to high rents and climbing housing prices through an accessible path to home ownership. They level the playing field by building homes and selling them to qualified residents at a substantially lower cost than other houses in the region. The homes are built by community volunteers using materials provided by local and national businesses as well as the parent organization, Habitat for Humanity International.

Since its founding in 1999 (after branching off from Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity), TCHH volunteers have built 41 homes for families in Teller County, putting in thousands of hours to create houses for individuals and families. But there is a need for many more homes.

Executive Director Jamie Caperton estimates TCHH would have to build a minimum of 200 homes per year to accommodate the growing number of families without access to affordable housing in Teller County.

"Over the years, our mission has boomed," says Caperton. "There are so many families that need attainable, affordable homes in our community. It's growing exponentially."

This year, TCHH decided to find new and innovative ways to meet that need, beginning what Caperton terms as one of the organization's most aggressive projects to date.

Early in 2017, TCHH began renovating the Lofthouse Motel in Woodland Park, creating nine condominiums in the building and naming it Clocktower Condominiums. It was an exciting move for the organization and a dramatic jump from its average build of two to three homes per year. It's also a system they plan to replicate and expand upon in the future.

"We're looking at several different properties right now," says Caperton. "We're also in negotiation to convert mobile home properties. We believe that through these methods, we can build sustainable, affordable neighborhoods for families."

TCHH is also looking into building smaller homes for singles or small families. One style of home they are considering is called a "shotgun house" — a narrow dwelling with each room leading into the next, eliminating wasted hallway space — that has a door at each end. These homes would ideally be built close together with a centralized community center to unite the neighborhood.

Their work is also expanding beyond home building. New plans include helping develop a nonprofit collaborative for Teller County that Caperton envisions as a streamlined, easily accessible group of community services in a centralized location. Caperton and a number of nonprofits plan to begin meeting in December to decide what that might look like and how to accomplish it.

Even with so many big wins in 2017 and more exciting projects on the horizon, Caperton notes that it's the small moments that make the job even more worthwhile.

"A couple weeks ago, my heart began to sing as I watched a little girl twirl around in her new closet. She was so excited to have that space all her own," says Caperton. "And we got to give her that."

Learn how you can help TCHH at tellerhabitat.org.

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