By Matt Kroschel

BASALT, Colo. (CBS4) – A groundbreaking idea could lead to a Colorado school district providing the land for Habitat for Humanity to build homes for teachers.

The housing crunch in many mountain communities including in the Roaring Fork Valley has school districts scrambling to figure out how to get teachers to work in those expensive communities where average rents are comparable to East Coast cities but salaries are not.

The potential partnership could produce 40 affordable housing units in Basalt that would be sold to teachers and other first responders, according to the proposal provided to CBS4 Tuesday.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork wants to build 20 duplexes on land owned by the Roaring Fork School District on a bench above Basalt High School. The concept is the school district would provide the land and Habitat would raise the funds for construction, according to Scott Gilbert, president of the local Habitat chapter.

Gilbert said about half of the for-sale units would be reserved for teachers because of the school district’s contribution of the land. The other units would go to people who qualify under Habitat’s normal needs assessment.

The area where the housing would be built in Basalt (credit: CBS)

The area where the housing would be built in Basalt (credit: CBS)

Planners say a key to the project is the partnership with the school district.

“For us to make it happen, we have to cut costs somewhere,” Gilbert said.

Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Diana Sirko told CBS4 the project has the potential to be a “game changer” for the district.

CBS4's Matt Kroschel interviews Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Diana Sirko (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Matt Kroschel interviews Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Diana Sirko (credit: CBS)

Other school districts having similar problems getting teachers to stay due to housing problems will be watching this proposal closely.

“We have got to think outside the box because things are not getting any less expensive in these places and we must have affordable housing for our teachers, firefighters and police officers,” Gilbert added.

Officials hope to have a final decision by April and the Board of Education also would also have to decide whether to pursue the partnership.

If the project proceeds, construction of the first units could start by spring 2017, Gilbert said.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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