FLC Employee Mortgage Assistance Program launches
FLC committed to the housing security of its faculty and staff by launching the Employee Mortgage Assistance Program, or EMAP.
Fort Lewis College committed to the housing security of its faculty and staff by launching the Employee Mortgage Assistance Program, or EMAP, on February 2, 2023. In partnership with the HomesFund, a certified Community Development Financial Institute and HUD-approved housing counseling agency, FLC will finance below-market loans for qualifying staff and faculty. The loan program received $1 million in program funding from the FLC Board of Trustees and the FLC Foundation Board in December 2021.
The funds will be administered through HomesFund, up to $70,000 per household. This assistance comes at a critical time. In 2022, the average cost of a single-family home in Durango was $728,056—well above the national average of $543,600.
“Partnering with the HomesFund provides the unique opportunity for our employees to stack a loan from EMAP on other HomesFund programs, maximizing the assistance available through a single source. This, paired with the expertise and genuine care that HomesFund provides, makes this a relationship I hope to continue for many years,” said Kelsey Deckert, housing strategy and development manager. “Working with the HomesFund has been such an energizing experience. They genuinely care about this program and supporting FLC employees.”
In addition to EMAP, FLC is responding to homebuyers' concerns over limited available stock and a competitive marketplace, significant barriers to purchasing a home in Durango. To lower these barriers, FLC has reserved six townhomes at the Animas City Park Overlook project, built by the Agave Group, a local developer. The idea for the reservation came from a connection made by Project Moxie, FLC’s employee housing consultant.
“Project Moxie reached out to the development community [on our behalf] to see what opportunities existed that we may not have otherwise known about,” Deckert said. “Because of this, the Agave Group approached us about their new community. They were working with the City of Durango to find a way to reserve units for the local workforce and thought a partnership with a longstanding employer like FLC would be a great fit.”
"We want to attract and retain the highest quality faculty and staff to provide the best student experience possible."
There are five two-bed/two-bath units and one three-bed/two-bath unit on reserve. The units are being held for purchase by FLC faculty and staff until June 13, 2023. Then, they will become available on the open market. These properties, expected to be completed for move-in in the fall, can be purchased with help from EMAP. There is also an option to purchase these units with a “light deed restriction,” which reduces the purchase cost by $10,000 but requires the home to be occupied by an individual in the La Plata County workforce. This is intended to curb Durango’s ongoing struggle with second-home buyers from out-of-state.
Though FLC will benefit from its enhanced ability to attract academic and professional talent across the nation, its current employees are the biggest beneficiaries.
“The ultimate goal, of course, is to help recruit and retain faculty and staff,” said Steven Schwartz, vice president of Finance and Administration and chief operating officer. “We want to attract and retain the highest quality faculty and staff to provide the best student experience possible.”
Schwartz continued, discussing the full scope of the program and its purpose.
“But we also realized we had to do something about [the housing crisis] for our existing employees,” Schwartz said. “The FLC EMAP is distinctive in that FLC and the FLC Foundation came together to fund a program directly targeted toward helping employees address the high cost of home ownership in a rural mountain community… It will allow people to get into a home they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.”
Schwartz, a long-time FLC employee, reflected on his journey to homeownership and how much that process has changed for new hires.
“I was able to come here and live my life, but I got here 25 years ago when prices were much more reasonable,” Schwartz said. “It's incredible that the FLC Board of Trustees and FLC Foundation Board have come together to help our people live their dream.”