Questa Lodging gets $200K to restore homes

Effort underway to provide more long-term rentals in region

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 12/12/19

Community members in the Taos area know just how hard it is to find a rental at times. Economic development officials in Questa are looking to change that one house at a time.

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Questa Lodging gets $200K to restore homes

Effort underway to provide more long-term rentals in region

Posted

Community members in the Taos area know just how hard it is to find a rental at times. Economic development officials in Questa are looking to change that one house at a time.

With a community grant of $200,000, the Questa Lodging Project will be renovating four aged homes in Questa and make them available to potential new renters.

"We know that there is a real housing crunch in our neighboring communities of Red River and Taos, while at the same time we have a surplus of underutilized homes in Questa," said Lindsay Mapes, economic development director for the Questa Economic Development Fund. The village is about 25 miles north of Taos and 13 miles west of Red River.

The department has identified four vacant homes in Questa that are currently not suitable to be rented out. One needs a new porch, another needs plumbing, heating and cooling repairs. Through the grant, these homes will be repaired, renovated and kept under the name of their original owners.

The remodeling will cost anywhere from $1,500 to $68,000, depending on the house. The money has been donated to the project by Chevron, the nonprofit LOR Foundation as well as the Questa Economic Development Fund, which has state monies.

The initiative behind the lodging project is to help longtime Questa families keep their homes, which have been used for generations.

Marsha Martinez is one such participant in the program who is glad to see her home renovated for continued use.

"I think restoring homes in Questa would really help the community," said Martinez, who lives in another home on the property. "The house means a great deal to me - to restore a home that is historical as well as has sentimental value."

Martinez grew up in the home her grandfather built and raised her children there as well. She has owned the home for nearly 20 years and said the repairs are just too much for her to tackle on her own.

"It means a great deal to me to restore that home," she said. "I always remember being raised there - the house always reminds me of my grandma always baking her bread and pies."

Martinez said she hopes to keep the home open for people to utilize on their visits to Questa and also hopes to keep it available for her visiting family members as well.

The Questa Lodging Project will hold the lease for the owners of the homes and act as a type of property manager. Rent will be paid to the program and a portion will be given to the owners each month while the rest will be used to pay for potential repairs, taxes and other expenses. The Questa Economic Development Fund will manage the project.

"The overarching goal is to keep these properties in the family," Mapes said.

Overall, the project is seeking to remodel up to 30 homes in the Questa area before the end of 2020.

Questa is a small, tightknit community of longtime residents. Residents were alarmed in 2014 when they were told that their main industry was leaving the area for good.

Chevron Mining's molybdenum mine had been in operation since 1920 and employed hundreds of workers from Questa and outside areas. It had been through ups and downs, but in 2014, the mine announced it was closing. Nearly 300 employees lost their jobs in the final layoff.

Since then, many locals have had to seek work in other fields, which sometimes means other towns, leaving a number of houses in the Questa area vacant.

According to estimated 2017 census data, Questa's population is 1,755, down from 2010's 1,773. Mapes said these numbers are on the rise as more people are looking at Questa as a bedroom community for Taos and other areas.

Mapes said these houses are family homes with at least two bedrooms each. This initiative could bring in a number of families to the Questa area and alleviate a small portion of the housing issue in Taos County.

In addition, Mapes hopes to keep the rent of the houses below the current prices for Taos long-term rentals.

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