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City approves plat for affordable housing

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Melendez Park near East Reed Street can be seen in this photo of the acreage that the city of Roswell has prepared to donate to affordable housing developers such as Habitat of Humanity. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Harshey’s Subdivision provides 18 lots for qualified builders

Affordable housing developers now have some property in Roswell available for their projects.

The city of Roswell has created a plat for the creation of Harshey’s Subdivision on undeveloped land on the southeast side of the city near Melendez Park. Parcels of the subdivision will be donated for the building of affordable homes.

Fronting South Cahoon Avenue and between East Summit and East Reed streets, the property of more than 4 acres has been designed to feature two cul-de-sacs with lots for 18 single-family homes, six around one cul-de-sac and 12 around the other.

The Roswell City Council voted unanimously to approve the plat during its Thursday meeting. The plat also was accepted by the Roswell Planning and Zoning Commission during its Feb. 28 meeting.

“I am very appreciative of the positive vote of the City Council to approve this final plat,” said Community Development Director Bill Morris in an email. “This is a first step in helping to increase the production of much-needed affordable housing in the city.”

Morris told city councilors that the city’s affordable housing survey showed a significant need for all types of affordable living units, including single-family homes. But developers have sometimes said that they do not have enough property to build on.

“What we are looking to do is to create these parcels, and as Habitat (for Humanity) or any other affordable housing developer would need, they would request these parcels to be released,” Morris said during the meeting.

Mike Penfield, president of the local Habitat chapter, expressed his appreciation to the city councilors and city staff.

“We are in need of more affordable housing for some of our lower-income families we do have here,” he said, “and doing this should definitely help us achieve this goal. We appreciate the support that Roswell has shown us and our partner families.”

Morris said the plat still needs to be signed and then filed with Chaves County. He added that neither Habitat or any other builder has requested parcels so far.

“Habitat has been supportive of this process but has not asked for any property yet since they still have a parcel or two right now,” he wrote. “Any other interested parties can request properties as well in the future.”

Morris said that another goal of the city action regarding Harshey’s Subdivision is to encourage development in that area of the city.

“The idea is to create a new place where there hasn’t been anything built in a long time,” he said in the email.

The city adopted its Affordable Housing Plan in 2016. It also created an Affordable Housing Ordinance approved by the Roswell City Council and the state of New Mexico. Among other things, the ordinance allows builders to create more housing units per square foot than typically allowed on residential lots.

The 2016 plan indicated that 500 households earning between 60 percent and 80 percent of the average median income were considered cost-burdened in terms of their housing payments because not enough suitable housing units existed in the city. Another 150 households earning between 80 percent to 100 percent were considered cost-burdened. Thus, the plan estimated that at least 650 more affordable housing units were needed in the city, and, because many cost-burdened households were families with children, two or three bedrooms were considered necessary.

Habitat for Humanity of Roswell has built 19 homes since 1995. Because Habitat obtains donations and coordinates volunteer crews for building, the chosen home recipient is able to pay much less than for comparable houses built by commercial builders. The partner families also receive mortgages at favorable rates. In return, the partner families help build their homes and typically volunteer on other Habitat projects. In recent years, the organization has built homes on East Beech Street after an anonymous individual’s donation of land to the group.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.