Hilda Loya didn’t want to leave her future home up to chance.
She arrived at 3 a.m. Monday to get in line at Library Hall with her application for The Reserves, a new 48-unit affordable housing complex expected to open in the spring.
“There are so many people in Steamboat, and so little places for rent,” said Loya, through a Spanish-speaking interpreter.
Loya is a housekeeper who has lived in Steamboat Springs for 12 years.
In December, the landlord of her two-bedroom unit in the downstairs of a house told her she would need to move out, as they wanted the space.
“Two weeks ago, they told us we need to leave,” said Loya, who lives with her brother.
If the siblings don’t get into The Reserves, Loya said they would have no place to go.
“And I know so many people who are in similar situations,” Loya said.
Loya was first in line Monday morning but was soon joined by other prospective tenants, who arrived at 4 a.m., 5 a.m. and later, hoping to live in the apartment complex, which is a project of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Elk River Road in West Steamboat.
By 10:30 a.m., about 80 people were waiting in line to turn in their applications, which were being accepted beginning at 11 a.m.
Income information will be verified by a third party, and approved applications accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for 12-month leases. After the complex is rented, other applicants will be placed on an interest list and invited to apply again when openings become available.
Retired teacher Kathleen O’Keefe said she’s lived with friends and family during her 10 years in Steamboat but was hopeful an apartment at The Reserves could finally be a place of her own.
“It’s something I can afford,” said OKeefe, who searches for housing on a daily basis.
Adela Hernandez arrived at about 4 or 4:30 a.m. to be fifth in line for the apartments, and she said, through a Spanish-speaking interpreter, that an apartment with more bedrooms would provide additional space for her and her two children, who are 5 and 2.
“One of my children is disabled and needs a room of his own,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez previously rented a mobile home until the owner sold it, and she and her children then moved into a studio.
“The place I’m living at now is too expensive,” she said.
Rent price for the units at The Reserves is based on household income, and units will be rented to residents earning less than 60, 50 or 40 percent of the area’s median income.
Predicted rental rates could range from $615 to $959 per month for a two-bedroom unit and from $710 to $1,108 per month for a three-bedroom unit, depending on household income.
Giving her 4-year-old son a room of his own was also a driving factor for Tabitha Rogers, 26, to apply for The Reserves.
After her car broke down, Rogers has struggled to commute to work in Steamboat from her home with a roommate in Oak Creek. She stays with friends or her brother, depending on the night.
“I’ve been hopping around like crazy,” Rogers said.
Rogers and her son Dominic arrived at Library Hall with their application around 9:45 a.m. Monday and were surprised to see dozens of people already in line, including several who took off from work Monday to wait.
If the family doesn’t get an apartment at The Reserves, Rogers is second on the waiting list at Hillside Village, another affordable housing complex, and she’s hopeful some of those apartments will be freed up by people moving into The Reserves.
For prospective tenants who were unable to turn in their applications Monday, additional applications will be accepted from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Library Hall, 1289 Lincoln Ave., and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at The Reserves offices, 1885 Elk River Road.