A new executive director will take over the Homes Fund this summer, following its shift to a regional focus on homeownership.
Lisa Bloomquist Palmer will start at the Homes Fund in late May and work with outgoing Executive Director Karen Iverson until June 30.
Bloomquist Palmer has more than nine years of experience administering homebuyer assistance programs and managing community development finance institutions, which focus on giving loans to low-income people.
“With our renewed focus on assisting homeowners and our expanded footprint, Lisa is the perfect candidate to lead the organization,” said Pam Miles, HomesFund board chair, in a news release.
Formerly the La Plata Homes Fund, the nonprofit started helping people across a five-county region achieve homeownership last year and changed its name to reflect the broader scope of the organization, Iverson said.
Iverson led the Regional Housing Alliance until last year, when it became dormant, eliminating duplicative boards.
The change allows the nonprofit to focus on helping homebuyers with mortgage assistance and homebuyer education classes, she said.
“I am really proud of being able to execute this transition and leave the community with an agency that has a reduced cost but has increased its ability to serve,” she said.
Last year, the agency granted $644,000 in mortgage assistance, more money than ever before.
Serving a larger region helps reach those in counties without any similar local programs, and it allows the HomesFund to support a larger staff.
“We can cover each other in circumstances where people are on vacation,” she said.
The organization could also provide gap-financing to unusual housing projects that would create affordable units but may not be attractive to traditional lenders.
As a result of the changes, the city directly negotiates fair-share agreements with developers instead of the Regional Housing Authority. Within city limits, large developments are required to have affordable and attainable units or pay fair-share fees.
But Iverson expects a close partnership between the Homes Fund and the city to continue.
For example, if the city created a deed-restricted affordable housing program, the Homes Fund could manage it, she said.
Deed-restricted housing ensures that once created, affordable housing cannot be used for another purpose.
She expects the demand for housing to continue as more retirees move to town. It’s also possible that Durango could become more of a resort community, she said.
After Bloomquist Palmer takes over the Homes Fund, Iverson plans to leave on a six-month trip that will include a bicycle tour across Europe and trekking in Nepal.