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For the past several years, the City of Alamosa has been investing into plans and strategies to help inform policies and goals in order to promote economic development, quality residential growth, and general improvements for the protection of the quality of life for the city’s residents and businesses. In 2017, the City of Alamosa completed the Comprehensive Plan, which resulted in the new Unified Development Code and spawned the Downtown Plan. While these plans addressed the need for housing as it relates to economic development, and there is broad agreement that the issue should be addressed, since no specific strategy currently exists. The City of Alamosa has not historically played a role in housing and is currently working on developing this expertise. Therefore, this assessment and plan are extremely important to guide the City’s priorities moving forward.
The City of Alamosa commissioned a Housing Needs Assessment and Action Plan in 2020 to understand current housing conditions and work towards solutions to address the housing challenges that people in the community are facing. The first part, the Assessment, takes a comprehensive look at current housing conditions and the factors that are shaping the housing market, such as demographics, the economy, and the housing market. Other insight was gained by an employer and stakeholder survey. The Assessment was completed in January 2021.
The next phase of the work is the Action Plan, which will focus on solutions. With an array of potential actions, the best strategies to address the Housing Needs Assessment findings and community priorities as identified through public survey responses will be compiled into a toolkit. The final action plan will include the housing toolkit, potential implementation strategies and the top 10 action steps in order to address housing shortfalls.
The Project Team:
Willa Williford is principal of Williford LLC. She assists high-cost communities with strategic planning, market analysis, and building housing for local residents. Willa’s experience includes housing development, finance, asset management, and program implementation in the public and private sectors. Prior to consulting, she served as Housing Director for Boulder County, Colorado, where she was responsible for adding 500 new affordable homes, and developing financially sustainable, results-oriented programs and policies. She previously worked for Boulder Housing Partners and U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation. Willa holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from University of Colorado at Denver, and an undergraduate degree in political science from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.
Wendy Sullivan, principal of WSW Consulting, is a housing planner and attorney, licensed in Colorado and California, specializing in affordable housing market research and strategy. She has nearly 20 years of community planning experience in both the public and private sector. Wendy has conducted and managed housing needs assessments, market studies and housing policy development for a range of communities and households in need, from special needs populations through upper-middle income (workforce) households. Her work has helped towns like Breckenridge, CO, and Jackson, WY, inform and maintain successful affordable and workforce housing policies and programs. She previously worked as a planner for Blaine County, Idaho (an area with a combined agricultural and resort economy), as a senior housing analyst for RRC Associates, Inc., in Boulder, Colorado, and as a contract attorney in municipal and affordable housing law. Wendy has a J.D. from the University of Colorado in Boulder, a Master’s in Regional Planning and a bachelor’s degree in computer science and minor in math.
Melanie Rees established her consulting practice in 1991, and has been exclusively devoted to housing since that time. Rees Consulting’s main products are housing needs assessments, market studies for ownership and rental housing developments and strategic/action plans for community housing. Her focus is mountain, rural and resort communities, including two previous market studies in the San Luis Valley. She is recognized as the leading authority on workforce and community housing in the mountain west. She previously worked in economic development for the State of Colorado and in community development for the City of Flagstaff, Arizona. Melanie has an MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver and undergraduate degrees in political science and economics.
Andrew Coburn is principal of Urban Rural Continuum LLC. He is a planner with extensive experience and has led or assisted with data analysis and synthesis on a variety of project types, including housing needs assessments, market studies, and environmental reviews with focus on socioeconomics and environmental justice. Prior to founding Urban Rural Continuum LLC, Mr. Coburn served as a project manager and community planner for the National Park Service. In that capacity, he worked for several years with Superintendent Carrico and Fred Bunch on a project at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, holding public meetings in Alamosa, Crestone, and at the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. Mr. Coburn holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. He also holds undergraduate degrees in economics and business administration.