In September 2013, unprecedented flooding across Colorado’s Front Range forced the evacuation of over 8,000 people, damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, and claimed 10 lives. The total impact to housing was estimated at approximately $676 million. In the three hardest-hit counties – Boulder, Larimer, and Weld -1233 homes either had major damage or were completely destroyed. The state’s action plan for the recovery effort describes the flood’s impacts in detail.
The disaster disproportionately affected low- to moderate income people, which comprised nearly three quarters of flood-affected households. In a region that already had an affordable housing crisis before the floods, vacancy rates dropped and rent prices rose further in the wake of the disaster. Many who were displaced from their homes have struggled to find housing they can afford. The impact of the flooding has also been felt by low-income families across the region who weren’t directly impacted but still have to meet their housing needs within an increasingly cost-burdened market. Many households pay close to half their monthly income for rent, making it very difficult to afford life’s other basic necessities.
In response to the disaster and the housing crisis, Habitat for Humanity initiated ReBuild Colorado with a three-year vision of serving 200 additional families in the flooded region through a combination of new home construction, repair, and rehab. Habitat for Humanity has been allocated $6 million in CDBG-Disaster Recovery funds that are being leveraged, along with contributions from other sources, to support the construction of more than 90 new homes. Repair and rehab work is being funded by private donations and other public funding sources.
While most projects will be completed in the hardest hit counties, all of Habitat’s work throughout the federally-declared disaster area will be a vital part of the region’s long-term recovery.