Steamboat Springs After placing it on its priorities list for two years in a row, City Council is ready tonight to start tackling the issue of a linkage program, which, in essence, would attempt to make the people who cause the need for affordable housing help fill that need.
City Manager Paul Hughes will present his research on the linkage program concept to City Council in a work session at the beginning of the meeting.
"Each year we have more jobs and fewer employees," City Councilman Ken Brenner said. "The reason the linkage program helps is that employees can find a place near their jobs in town."
In Colorado, a number of jurisdictions similar to Steamboat Springs have linkage programs in place. Among those cities are Basalt, Snowmass Village and Aspen.
Snowmass Village, for instance, requires developers to provide affordable housing for 60 percent of new employees in various commercial industries.
To implement a linkage program, the city would likely have to establish just how many jobs were generated by different land uses. The city would then have to determine what percentage of the employees would need to be provided housing by the employer.
The linkage program is one way the city is attempting to achieve its goal of providing employees with options for affordable housing in the wake of the failure of Referendum 2A. The program, as identified by the city manager, could also help the employers of the town retain a more stable work force.
The linkage program would have to be "rational, defensible and productive," Hughes said. As with an impact fee, the city would have to provide evidence that the amount of housing an employer needed to provide was justified and that the employer received a proportional benefit, Hughes wrote.
Because the city has not conducted a study of affordable housing needs in six years, Hughes recommended it do so in preparation for implementing the linkage program.
The linkage program is one of the options included in a position paper on affordable housing presented by the city's consultants, Clarion and Associates, for the new Community Development Code. The consultants also recommended that the city update its affordable housing study.