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Eco-Friendly Affordable Housing at Taos Haus + 6

Photograph of five 2-story, single-family detached houses.Taos Haus + 6 features 24 newly constructed single-family detached houses, 6 apartments in a rehabilitated 3-story building, and a newly constructed community building. Credit: Tierra Realty Trust

The high number of vacation and second homes in Taos has inflated housing prices and led to a market in which very few affordable housing options exist, according to the Taos Affordable Housing Element, published in 2012 and part of the town’s (Re)vision 2020 comprehensive plan. The plan points out that housing affordability is especially a problem for households earning less than 80 percent of area median income (AMI. In response to the need for affordable housing in Taos, Tierra Realty Trust, a development company based in New Mexico, developed Taos Haus + 6 with 30 affordable rental units in newly constructed and rehabilitated structures. The development received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Platinum certification for features that reduce energy and water consumption, the use of sustainable building materials, and the project’s infill location.

Affordable Housing at Taos Haus + 6

Taos Haus + 6, completed in 2013 on two parcels, includes a newly constructed community building, 24 newly constructed single-family detached houses, and 6 apartments in a rehabilitated 3-story building. All the residences are affordable to low-income households earning up to 60 percent of AMI, with some units set aside for households earning up to 40 percent and 50 percent of AMI. Eight of the units are reserved for families, and two are reserved for persons with special needs, defined by the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative as those with serious mental illnesses; addictive disorder; age-related, cognitive, developmental, physical, or sensory disabilities; disabilities caused by chronic illness; or households who are homeless.

Now containing 6 two-bedroom units, the 34-year-old apartment building underwent both interior and exterior renovations, including new electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems as well as new windows, fixtures, cabinetry, and finishes. The single-family houses include 6 three-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom units. Livable space in the apartments and houses ranges from 1,050 square feet for 2-bedroom units to 1,260 square feet for 3-bedroom units.

The development’s community building features a kitchen and a laundry facility as well as space for support services provided by Golden Spread Rural Frontier Coalition. Residents receive services such as job training, job search and placement assistance, financial literacy education, computer classes, nutrition education, and health screenings. The property also contains a basketball court, playground, and orchard.

Achieving LEED Platinum Certification

Taos Haus + 6 achieved LEED for Homes Platinum certification, the highest level of certification available, in part because of its energy efficiency, including the high insulation and airtightness of the building envelope, which reduces energy consumption by more than 70 percent. All units include insulated windows with low emissivity; walls with blown-in insulation; ENERGY STAR® appliances; high-efficiency tankless water heaters; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems with high seasonal energy efficiency ratios (SEER); and energy-efficient compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode lighting.

According to Stephen Crozier, president and founder of Tierra Realty Trust, the solar orientation of the new construction decreased the energy required for heating and cooling. The solar orientation, combined with sun shades on the south-facing windows, reduces solar heat gain in the buildings during the summer. This feature is particularly important in New Mexico, where the annual number of cooling degree days — an index reflecting the amount of energy needed to cool buildings — has increased over the past century.

Photograph showing the sides of three 2-story, single-family detached homes.The solar orientation of the houses helped the development earn LEED of Homes Platinum certification. Credit: Tierra Realty Trust.

The buildings’ finishes also improve indoor air quality. The paints and adhesives contain no volatile organic compounds, and cabinet substrates (the cores of cabinets, often made of plywood) are free of formaldehyde. In addition, the project used durable and sustainable construction materials, including local concrete and stucco.

The development conserves water through a plumbing system that uses very high-efficiency fixtures and fittings. Outside of the buildings, more than 90 percent of site’s landscaping consists of indigenous, drought-tolerant plants. The irrigation system relies on harvested rainwater, and drip hoses and moisture sensors further reduce water use.

The siting of Taos Haus + 6 also contributed to the development’s LEED Platinum certification. One of the development’s parcels is located on and the other is located one block from Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, one of Taos’ main roads. The infill development is within walking distance of Taos High School and a shopping center with a grocery store and is a short bus ride from Taos’s historic downtown plaza.

Funding

The development cost for Taos Haus + 6 was $6.6 million. Most of the funding, $5.6 million, was low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity from the National Equity Fund in exchange for tax credits from the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority. The authority also provided $300,000 in HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds and $252,000 from the New Mexico Sustainable Building Tax Credit program. Bank of America provided a loan for the remaining costs.

Meeting Needs throughout New Mexico

The apartments and houses in Taos Haus + 6 have been fully leased since opening, and the development, like Tierra Realty Trust’s other affordable housing projects, has a waiting list of prospective tenants. As renewable energy features become more affordable, Tierra Realty Trust hopes to eventually build communities that are completely energy independent. Until that time, Tierra Realty Trust is continuing to develop eco-friendly, affordable housing throughout New Mexico. According to Crozier, the developer is working on a 60-unit LIHTC development affordable to households with incomes between 30 and 80 percent of AMI in Hobbs, New Mexico. Tierra Realty Trust also recently received funding to begin rehabilitating and adding units to a development the company had built in 1999, its first LIHTC project in Taos.

Source:

Town of Taos, New Mexico. 2012. “(Re)vision 2020: Affordable Housing Element.” Accessed 27 October 2016; Interview with Stephen Crozier, president of Tierra Realty Trust, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “About Tierra Realty.” Accessed 18 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, president of Tierra Realty Trust, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6: Taos, NM.” Accessed 18 October 2016; National Equity Fund. 2012. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative. 2013. “New Mexico Supportive Housing Programs and Resources.” Accessed 18 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, president of Tierra Realty Trust, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6: Taos, NM.” Accessed 18 October 2016; National Equity Fund. 2012. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, president of Tierra Realty Trust, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6: Taos, NM.” Accessed 18 October 2016; National Equity Fund. 2012. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, president of Tierra Realty Trust, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6: Taos, NM.” Accessed 18 October 2016; National Equity Fund. 2012. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; Environmental Protection Agency. 2016. “Climate Change Indicators in the United States: Heating and Cooling Degree Days in the Contiguous 48 States, 1895–2014.” Accessed 27 October 2016; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. 2005. “Degree Days Explanation.” Accessed 27 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, 24 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Taos Haus + 6: Taos, NM.” Accessed 18 October 2016; National Equity Fund. 2012. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; North Central Regional Transit District. 2016. “340 Chile Line Route Brochure.” Accessed 13 January 2017.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, 24 October 2016; National Equity Fund. 2012. “Taos Haus + 6.” Accessed 18 October 2016; Correspondence from Stephen Crozier, 4 November 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Stephen Crozier, 24 October 2016; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. 2014. “LIHTC Database: New Mexico.” Accessed 4 November 2016; Tierra Realty Trust. n.d. “Sustainability.” Accessed 18 October 2016.

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