The Santa Fe County Commission is planning to transform a vacant, dusty lot just north of Airport Road into a mixed-use housing complex for low-income renters, the first of its kind in the county in almost 30 years.

In July, the commission approved a $600,000 architectural contract with the local design firm Autotroph to draw up designs for the project, which would be built on county-owned land inside city limits. The designs will be presented to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority as part of an application for the agency’s 4 percent Low-income Housing Tax Credit program.

The hope, County Commissioner Anna Hansen said, is that the $15 million, 6.6-acre project will help put a dent, albeit a small one, in an affordable housing shortage throughout the area.

“We basically need affordable housing, and it’s a struggle,” Hansen said. “Especially if we’re building market rate. Many people can’t afford that. Market rate is for people who have jobs and are not living off of fixed income, people who have had resources in their lives.”

The project raises questions about why the county has struggled to build any such projects over the past 30 years.

The county manages Section 8 units, in which rent for low-income residents is subsidized through federal funds, and other housing complexes, but Hansen said the county primarily has handed out housing assistance vouchers, partially funded with federal dollars, through its housing authority.

Hansen, whose District 2 includes the Camino de Jacobo site, said over the past 30 years, federal dollars for affordable units and housing were cut, which hampered efforts to add to the housing stock. Recently, she said, more federal money has become available, allowing for more flexibility.

“[It’s] kind of like we’re in a finite situation so to speak,” Hansen said. “Not that the county is finite, but still, areas to build in, areas to develop in, it requires infrastructure. It requires a lot of resources that counties and municipalities don’t always have.”

Commissioner Hank Hughes, who also serves as executive director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, said the county now has the staff to address what is a more complicated process for building public housing.

“It’s a little bit more complicated, but it’s definitely worth doing,” Hughes said.

At the July 13 County Commission meeting, Hughes said even if the county doesn’t win the competitive tax credit bid through the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority, funding the design work with Autotroph will put the county in a better position to secure other types of federal financing.

“If the first one works well, then we can do another one, and another one, and another one, and make a dent in the affordable housing problem in Santa Fe County,” Hughes said at the meeting.

The Santa Fe County Housing Authority purchased the parcel in 2018. A team of Yale students traveled to Santa Fe to examine the site in 2020. Their “Jacobo Commons” proposal ultimately won the state Housing and Urban Development Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition.

County Manager Katherine Miller said Autotroph will use the students’ proposal as the basis for its design work.

According to a memo, the development will feature anywhere from 93 to 120 units, consisting of studios and one- to two-bedroom units, as well as transportation options and rooms for social service programs.

Hughes said the development will be considered an “affordable” project but is not intended for the lowest rung of renters, who typically need some level of continuing federal subsidy.

Federal guidelines require affordable units to be offered at less than 30 percent of the renter’s income.

According to a report from the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, of the 6,720 families making $50,000 or less, 86 percent are rent burdened or pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. That rate jumps to 96 percent in Santa Fe for renters making less than $35,000 a year.

But while both the county and the city have thousands of apartment units in development, and thousands more in the pipeline, housing officials say it’s hard to peg how many more units the region needs to address its affordable housing problem.

According to a report provided by Joseph Montoya, director of the county housing authority, the county needs about 5,000 units, 2,500 of which are in development across the county and in the city of Santa Fe.

It’s unclear when the Camino de Jacobo property will break ground.

Commissioner Rudy Garcia said at the July 13 meeting he hoped the development would help the area’s homeless population.

“It’s sad to see how individuals are living out there,” Garcia said. “This is a good project and hopefully those [individuals] we see out on the street can benefit from this project.”

(18) comments

Tamara Lichtenstein

What Rachel said.

Mark Ortiz

Meanwhile the eviction moratorium has expired. Republican's could care less as they crush the poor and working class into dust as they go on vacation/ fundraising events. Pelosi forgot what day it is , saying they'll address is when they come back, 4-6 weeks. SCOTUS is doing his part to lose the 2024 election by pandering to some faux bipartisan BS. McConnell said, he's not working with democrats.

David Brown

This development will bring drugs and crime to the South Side which is one reason it was placed nowhere else. The neighbors of this model slum will suffer greatly but their complaints will go forever ignored. Will the incompetent SF PD even respond to their 911 call?

The profiteers who profit greatly off Section 8 housing at tax payer expense will be long gone.

Those darlin Brahim Yalie pinhead students who jetted in and out with brilliant professors in tow will no doubt get A’s and research grants for their brilliant work.

All this is actually a grand vomit for the South Side…..but few care…least of all our elected officials.

Charlotte Rowe

Better affordable housing than more so-called luxury condos meant to lure outsiders to come and use up our water. But if you're going to build such a thing, please make sure there is a grocery, pharmacy and a few other general necessity establishments nearby, within walking distance. Public transit is good to have , but it's better to not have to arrange one's life around the bus schedule

Rachel Thompson

Yes, Seton Village is MUCH further away from the Camino de Jacobo site, which is quite close to shopping and other things. I just grabbed these listings for examples. There aren't any similarly-sized lots available in the city east of St. Francis and any lot that was available would likely need to be rezoned. My point is just that we are not going to change existing/growing patterns of segregation and the tenor of relations among communities if we don't make a very, very concerted effort to do so. (I opposed the Zia Station development b/c I don't buy into the "walkable neighborhood" claim in that case b/c I don't think a Railrunner station makes an area walkable, and I don't think the traffic outcomes will be particularly safe).

Richard Reinders

Just say thank you to the tax payers funding this effort, or fund it yourself where you want it with crowd funding or some other form of donation.

Rachel Thompson

Here's a link to the Chainbreaker report, titled "Equitable Development and Risk of Displacement: Profiles of Four Santa Fe Neighborhoods".

Rachel Thompson

I gather the county paid $860,000 for the 6.6-acre lot. There are similar-size lots available for sale now in the Seton Village area that aren't flat, but are listed in the $250,000 range. Can't determine any covenants.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 states that in order to qualify for federal (HUD) funds an applicant must "take meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics", including race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status, and disability.

An August 2015 report commissioned by Chainbreaker shows how intensely segregated Santa Fe was already by income and by its Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic population. I can only imagine how much more segregated are the neighborhoods which the report examined in 2015.

christopher quintana

I don’t know exactly where this property is located, but I hope it’s not too far out and away from services where people need a car just to get around. The travel distance plays into “affordable” as well.

Richard Reinders


christopher quintana

53 Camino De Jacobo. @ intersection of Airport & Cerrillos rd. To the North. Great location to walk to stores

Bill Roth

YEp- it's Santa Fe. Something positive in the housing realm is dragged for not meeting everyones high standard of "if I were in charge I would be doing this" Folks- one project will not solve all the problems, and therefore cant be expected hit every mark everyone wants. And Richard, read closely, this is NOT a program to house the homeless- affordable units are targeted to towards the working poor, as it were, incomes up to 50k per household...

Richard Reinders

Commissioner Rudy Garcia said at the July 13 meeting he hoped the development would help the area’s homeless population.

Richard Reinders

Build it and they will come, all these programs attract homeless from other areas of the state and country. This doesn't solve the homeless problem unless you have a program to work them into the working population with counseling and programs. With half measures you keep the same old problem.

Charlotte Rowe


Rachel Thompson

What other sites in the county were considered for this project? This appears to follow the very unfortunate pattern of placing low income housing in areas that are already disproportionately low income, thereby increasing the county’s wealth segregation as well as segregation by color.

Cheryl Odom


David Brown


Welcome to the discussion.

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