Local organization will help design, train similar models throughout the U.S.

Total Concept Director Steve Cordova announced at the July 1 Board of County Commissioners meeting that the affordable housing nonprofit headquartered in Fowler has been accepted by NeighborWorks America to help design community development training models that could be implemented across the country.

NeighborWorks America is an organization oriented toward helping community development through affordable housing. The nonprofit serves as a resource for nearly 250 similar independent organizations, each striving to make livability possible in their respective communities, according to Neighborworks America's website.

Cordova said that Total Concept was one of just six entities chosen nationwide to participate in the project.

"I'm happy to say that Total Concept is one of six organizations in the United States that was accepted by NeighborWorks America to help design training courses, evaluate approaches and help identify models that can be replicated nationally," said Cordova.
"This is a three-year project where Total Concept will be involved to try to shape that model. That's really quite amazing, I think."

Opportunity knocked, thanks to Total Concept's high marks during a recent evaluation by NeighborWorks America, a major funder of the local nonprofit, Cordova said.

"I'm happy to say that based on their last review, their committee has recommended that we remain at our rating of 'Strong.'"

'Exemplary' is the best grade receivable in NeighborWorks of America's evaluation system, but it is difficult for Total Concept to meet that threshold because it's raised by the productivity of some organizations in larger cities.

But that situation hasn't deterred Total Concept.

"Being a 'Strong' rating is actually really, really very good for us," said Cordova. "It allows us to participate in a number of interesting initiatives."

One of those initiatives, Cordova said, is the three-year project he'd just announced. He described it as a "shared equity advisory committee."

"There's this concept that a methodology to develop housing and single-family ownership around what's called a shared equity model allows for long term affordability for families to own homes," said Cordova.

Cordova's announcement came after his followup with a project pitched to commissioners at the June 24 BOCC meeting regarding a request on behalf of Total Concept for the county to become the grant recipient and pass-through entity for a 25-home project in Bent, Crowley and Otero counties.

Total Concept would request $227,916 from the state for a single-family, owner-occupied rehabilitation project costing a total of $653,000.

Commissioner Jim Baldwin motioned to approve signatures on the application Cordova brought to the July 1 meeting. His motion was seconded by Commissioner John Hostetler and the board voted unanimously to approve it.

Cordova made one last announcement at the July 1 meeting: that Total Concept has entered into a "capacity-building contract" with Enterprise Development, another funder of the local nonprofit.

The contract is to help Total Concept "fund multifamily development efforts in permanent support of housing models," Cordova said.

"We will be assisting a set of developers to develop a permanent supportive housing model and housing project in Trinidad," said Cordova. "We will explore the model in Salida, all with the intentions to develop one in Bent County, probably in about 2021."