DURANGO, Colo. (KRQE) – The city of Durango has a new approach in how they are dealing with their housing shortage. They say there’s a new incentive for homeowners to help pay their mortgage while helping someone else find a place to stay.

Durango is facing a housing shortage. The city says its so bad, there are only 30 available places for rent in the entire area.

“Durango isn’t unique to the housing crisis facing our community. Very much like any other mountain rural resort area, there’s a shortage and that affects home ownership as well as rental properties. I think one of our local appraisers recently did a survey and there’s about a 1.8% vacancy rate in our area,” said Housing Information Manager for the city of Durango, Eva Henson.

The city is hoping their Accessory Dwelling Units Program can help ease the shortage. The city is offering homeowners $8,000 to build an apartment either in their house, attached or detached from their home. Some homeowners are excited to help.

Charles and Johnie O’nan, ADU Incentive Rebate Program applicants mentioned, “We have a finished basement that we don’t use very much. We were thinking about downsizing. We had to do some design work to plan for a outside entrance. Other than that it’s a pretty minor amount of work. We first had to apply for a permit to have an ADU and after that we had to apply for a construction permit.”

The units have been legal in Durango since 2014. However, since then, only 50 units have been built. The city decided to relax some of their original rules. For example, with a few exceptions, ADU’s are now allowed in all residential neighborhoods in city limits.

“We’re really trying to maximize, increase, do additional outreach on the program and help target what we very much think can help achieve workforce housing in our community,” said Henson.

Building a legal unit depends on what zone homeowners live in. Property owners will have to rent the unit to a local working at least 32 hours in the area. The city’s running on a first-come-first-serve basis and say many are already contacting them.

“Since we just went live with this last week, we’ve had a slurry of folks calling ‘is my property eligible?'” said Henson, “We’re hoping to work through that for folks. We’re really excited to get this live.”

Interested property owners will have to agree to the program rules for 2 years. If owners already have an existing unit, they would need to legalize it through the city. Units must have an approved permit before applying for the rebate.

The city of Durango is using funding from their housing incentive money. Durango’s goal is to build at least 10 apartment units through this program. Interested applicants can visit Durango’s city website to see if their property is eligible.