Friday, March 22, 2013

State’s Top-Two Affordable Housing Agencies Join Forces to Support Western Slope

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing (DOH) and CHFA are pleased to announce that they are joining forces and hiring a regional representative to provide information and technical support about the affordable housing and economic development programs available through each entity, with the goal of supporting communities in understanding how the programs can be combined and leveraged to support the Western Slope. “By sharing this position we will learn how to create greater efficiency in our funding and technical assistance services. This is critical to meeting the growing need for affordable housing on the Western slope,” said Pat Coyle, Director of DOH.

The new Development Specialist/Liaison position will be held by Jennifer Lopez, who was formerly the Executive Director of the Regional Housing Alliance of La Plata County in Durango. In that capacity, she created a five-point action plan, launched four new programs, successfully negotiated $30 million in affordable housing agreements with developers, launched the first Down Payment Program in the four corners (90 loans/ $2.7 million portfolio), and created a nonprofit sister agency that is designated as a community development finance institution (CDFI) and a HOME community housing development organization (CHDO).

Cris White, executive director and CEO for CHFA said, “Over the past year, CHFA held community discussions in both Durango and Grand Junction. Throughout, we heard a strong desire for technical staff that could support community leaders and local industry as they work to advance the region’s housing and economic success. By working together, CHFA and DOH can give our customers and partners better information about our resources in a more streamlined and efficient way.”

Ms. Lopez brings more than 12 years of experience in community development and affordable housing. Before joining the RHA, Ms. Lopez served one of the country’s most successful affordable housing programs in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she was exposed to both policy and delivery systems that, to date, have created more than 2,500 affordable homes. She is a graduate of Fort Lewis College and the University of New Mexico. Additionally, Ms. Lopez is a past participant of the Achieving Excellence Program, an 18-month leadership program for housing professionals sponsored by Fannie Mae, NeighborWorks America and Harvard University.

Ms. Lopez’s community service includes a partnership with the Governor’s Office and 100,000 homes campaign, where she spearheaded the “Vulnerability Index” in Southwest Colorado. This initiative identified over 330 homeless individuals over a week-long campaign. As a result of this effort the community formed a new task force, raised $95,000; successfully acquired a parcel for development of supportive housing and will hire a new regional housing coordinator in partnership with the Southwest Council of Governments.

Ms.Lopez will office from Durango and can be contacted at 970.903.6809.