Habitat for Humanity is Breaking Ground on Housing Depth

Protecting and Growing Vail Valley Housing Options, Now and for Future Generations

There’s an estimated shortfall of 5,900 affordable housing units in Eagle County right now. According to a recent impact report by Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, average single-family home prices in most Colorado resort counties have doubled since 2015, and the average weekly wage in Eagle County in 2022 was $1,249, while the average home sale price was $2.2 million.

“The math really doesn’t work,” says Habitat for Humanity development director Elyse Howard. “The people who make up the fabric of our community cannot afford to live here.”

This has been a disheartening fact in the Valley for a while now, with many families doubling and tripling up in small confines and service industry workers stacking roommates in bedrooms to make rent. But, tides are shifting, and what used to be a housing crisis among hotel housekeepers and dishwashers has percolated to bank tellers, police officers and teachers — the backbone of community services.

“They all deserve to live where they work,” Howard says, pointing out that outlier communities like Eagle and Gypsum aren’t affordable anymore. “We want to root them in the community and keep them here. And, we’re locked between Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon where it’s increasingly difficult to get a toehold to own a home.”

Habitat for Humanity

Grace Avenue: Groundbreaking ceremony for the collaboration between Eagle County School District and Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.

Building a Better Life

In 2021, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley broke ground on its 100th home for hardworking locals, providing a path for safe and affordable housing. Habitat homeowners are educators, law enforcement officers, tradespeople, healthcare, grocery store and resort employees who make the Eagle County wheels spin. Habitat’s track to home ownership is an in-depth process, requiring hard work, time and dedication in a partnership that includes performing “sweat equity,” or helping to build your own home or the homes of others. Sweat equity can also include taking homeownership classes or performing volunteer work in a Habitat ReStore.

Habitat for Humanity goes one step further and helps new homeowners prepare for the ins and outs of homeownership by offering classes on personal finance, mortgages, maintenance and upkeep of homes, and much more. “A Habitat home with an affordable mortgage gives financial freedom to families and helps build intergenerational wealth,” says Howard. “No longer consumed with working two or three jobs, families have time to spend together, helping create better community for all.”

Andrea Bryzicki with two daughters

Andrea Bryzicki and her daughters moved into Stratton Flats a year ago. She is an early childhood educator at Eagle Valley Elementary School.

Raising her two children in an RV without running water, unsure if she would have to move again, Andrea Bryzicki became a Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley homeowner and set herself and her family up for success.

“My home allowed me to become a single mom, stay on my own and take care of my kids in a very safe place,” she says. “It’s life changing.”

As she settled into her home, Bryzicki continued her education, working towards her Early Childhood Director’s license, while working full time in the Eagle County School District. “If your basic needs are met, you can be a functioning part of society and give back so much more,” she says.

A Community That Cares

It takes a village to keep Habitat for Humanity prospering. Tremendous donations from local businesses and leaders — including countertops from Gallegos, insulation from Green Sky (whose owner actually grew up in a Habitat home) and wood from Alpine Lumber — helps Habitat erect safe, solid homes.

In 2020 alone, 50 businesses donated $849,715 in goods and services. “We have this really great, large group of supporters and stakeholders,” Howard says. “That’s something that’s really special about our community.” An incredible amount of volunteer hours, along with funding from fundraising and grants helps fuel Habitat’s efforts. However, demand continues to outweigh supply.

“We’ve been doing this work in this community since ’95, and it’s getting harder and harder to put down roots here,” says Howard. “The need is there, and we’re just really trying to meet the moment and keep more families here long term.”

New Housing on the Horizon

In a once-in-a-generation affordable housing investment, Colorado received $400 million in government funding at the end of 2020. A task force formed last summer to research affordable housing throughout the state, and, Howard says, it’s time for Eagle County to take advantage of as much of that funding as possible and double down on their Habitat building efforts.

Habitat for Humanity homes

12 homes were built on Grace Avenue (property donated by the school district) in Gypsum. In 2021, all 12 families had moved in.



• Volunteer at the Habitat for
Humanity ReStore.

• Donate gently used furnishings
and appliances to the ReStore.

• Volunteer to help build a home.

• Donate money, property or
building materials

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley aims to double its impact by 2024, building 40 new homes and recycling six homes for qualified families. The organization is working closely with Kevin O’Donnell, president of Beck Building Company in Buena Vista, on a modular construction pilot program to lead the way on shorter home build times. In a partnership with the Eagle County School District, Habitat and O’Donnell constructed 16 homes along Third Street in Eagle, where 75% of the development is dedicated to school district employees.

At Stratton Flats in Gypsum, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley built 40 homes between 2012 and 2019. In 2021, Habitat Vail Valley broke ground on eight additional homes. Upon completion, there will be 72 Habitat homes and four remaining sites in inventory at Stratton Flats.

A Brand New ReStore

Habitat opened a new ReStore a block from Costco in Gypsum in June, offering a place for the community to donate gently used furniture, appliances and materials, which provides a revenue stream back into area Habitat projects. The new retail space is located in the former Mountain Living furniture store and features everything from leather couches to artwork to microwaves and gas stoves.

Apply For Habitat for Humanity 

Habitat’s homeowner selection is managed at the local level. For more information, please call 970.748.6718 or email info@habitatvailvalley.org.