If everything goes according to plan, the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah could break ground on its latest affordable housing development as early as next month.

HASU Executive Director Ben Riley said his organization is finalizing its plans to build the six-unit, townhome-style Deer Trail Subdivision in the 700 block of 400 North. According to Riley, the attached two-story townhouses will be a lower-cost option for the applicants and their families.

“We are helping families who wouldn’t necessarily qualify enough in order to build single-family homes,” he said Oct. 15.

Although Riley is still waiting for some of the applicants to firm up their loans, he is optimistic that work on the half-acre property can get under way in early November.

“It’s still not for sure, but it’s as close as can be,” he said. “A lot of it hinges on everything falling into place, but everything looks really good.”

Riley spoke just one day after the Moab City Council voted unanimously to approve the final plat map for the project.

While that vote is behind them now, council members have more work to do. On Oct. 28, they are scheduled to review the developer’s subdivision improvements agreement, along with an agreement to dedicate the right-of-way along 400 North, according to Moab City Planner Jeff Reinhart.

As far as everything else goes, Moab City Zoning Administrator/ Planning Assistant Sommar Johnson said the project seems to be largely on schedule.

“It appears that everything is lining up to meet the housing authority’s deadline,” Johnson said Oct. 20. “There are a couple of outstanding things we’re waiting on, but the developer has been really good about getting things to us.”

If the council approves the Oct. 28 items, Riley plans to meet with city officials in the first week of November to sort through the last remaining tasks. So far, he said, Reinhart, Johnson and Moab City Manager Donna Metzler have been great to work with.

“(They) have all been helping us quite a bit,” he said.

The latest developments are a surprising ― yet welcome ― outcome for the housing authority.

As recently as this past summer, about two-thirds of its annual operating budget appeared to be in jeopardy, because it could not meet the terms of its Mutual Self-Help Program grant.

Under the terms of the two-year federal grant, the housing authority was required to help families build 22 homes within a specific time frame. But it fell seven homes short of that requirement because otherwise-qualified applicants could not find enough affordable lots in town.

When Riley and HASU Board chairwoman Cathy Bonde called attention to the authority’s predicament, they began to hear from a number of developers and landowners who voiced an interest in working with them.

One of those developers came forward with the future site of the Deer Trail Subdivision, and although that person is working behind the scenes at this point, Riley wants to call attention to his support.

“We’re just really happy to find somebody who helped us out in a dire situation,” he said. “It was a great circumstance to work with someone who had something available, and who was willing to work with us in such a short time frame.”

The housing authority also had help from USDA Rural Development State Director Dave Conine, whose office administers the Mutual Self-Help Program: Conine agreed to extend the program’s grant period through the early part of next year.

That extension should give the housing authority enough time to complete not only the townhomes, but also one more home rehabilitation project in Grand or San Juan County. Anyone who is interested in bringing an existing home up to livable standards should contact the housing authority at 435-259-5891 between now and March 2015 at the very latest.

“We encourage people to apply if they have their eye on something,” Riley said. “It would be a way for someone to get into a home.”

In the coming months, the housing authority is working to get a new Mutual Self-Help Program grant in place, and if Conine’s office approves that application, Riley hopes to get started on the following build in the spring of 2015.

Meanwhile, the Moab City Planning Commission is reviewing possible incentives that could make it easier for developers of affordable housing and workforce housing to build projects near Moab’s city center. While the board has not come up with any firm proposals at this point, Reinhart said that everything is on the table.

“We’re still in the very early stages of trying to come up with that toolbox or palette that we can draw from,” he said.

Johnson encourages anyone who wants to listen in on the planning commission’s discussion to attend its next workshop on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the city council’s chambers, 217 E. Center St. If residents can’t make it to that workshop, they’ll have another chance to see the planning commission at work on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m.

As the planning board continues its work, Reinhart said that he and his department will fast-track any affordable housing plans that come across their desks.

“We’re not cutting corners, but we will bring affordable housing projects to the top when we’re reviewing them,” he said.

Six affordable housing units proposed for Deer Trail Subdivision

We are helping families who wouldn’t necessarily qualify enough in order to build single-family homes.