Caritas Commons

A rendering of a planned home in Caritas Commons, a 14 unit affordable housing development with homes for purchase in northwest Boise.

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BOISE — Seleena Ott and her husband, Marshall, are raising two kids under age 3 and have with big dreams of buying a home and starting a downtown Boise coffee shop. At times, those dreams have felt financially out of reach.

With the help of nonprofit Boise housing developer LEAP Housing Solutions, the Otts will be able to purchase a four-bedroom home in northwest Boise for $212,000.

This low-priced home, which will stay affordable in perpetuity for other people to purchase down the road, is part of a partnership between LEAP, Saint Alphonsus, housing manufacturer indieDwell in Caldwell and private land developer Darkhorse Development to create a subdivision of 14 affordable homes.

“It was incredibly overwhelming and humbling to see all of the hands that had gone into making this possible,” Seleena Ott said during a virtual press conference announcing the project Wednesday. “We thought the whole time, ‘Why us?’ But that’s why LEAP is doing what they’re doing, for people like us who don’t have a way to get settled in Boise.”

The neighborhood, located on Shields Avenue off of Horseshoe Bend Road, is set to have the first four homes built in early 2021. This is the first piece of land in LEAP’s housing land trust, which means the land the homes are built on will be held in a trust by LEAP to help keep the homes affordable long-term.

The homes are open for purchase for those who make less than 80% of the area median income, which is $56,250 for a family of four. This is equivalent to a biweekly paycheck of $2,163 before taxes.

Saint Alphonsus purchased the land and donated another $160,000 to subsidize four of the homes.

Odette Bolano, president of the hospital system, said this is the first affordable housing project her organization has funded.

“We believe affordable housing is health care,” she said. “Our community health needs assessment has shown that safe, affordable housing is the No. 1 health priority of the people and many partners in the region.”

The partnership to make this happen involved multiple partners, including financing from nonprofit NewWest Capital, affordable home builder indieDwell, which provided the houses made out of shipping containers, Darkhorse Development, which sold the property for less of a profit than possible elsewhere, and funds from the Idaho Housing and Finance Association that come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The houses on the property cost roughly $290,000 to build, but are selling for roughly $80,000 less. To subsidize the sale, half of the difference is being funded by IHFA and the other half is being raised by private donations. LEAP is hoping to raise an additional $312,000 to help subsidize the rest of the development beyond the four homes supported by Saint Alphonsus.

The project is mostly funded with private sources and will be profitable for several of the partners.

“While doing good business, we have managed to do good for Boise,” LEAP Housing Solutions Executive Director Bart Cochran said.

This is the same street where LEAP created a subdivision of eight four-bedroom indieDwell homes for rent by low income Boiseans in the last year called Windy Court.

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