Housing authority revisited

Officials hear presentation on other counties' projects

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— Housing authority directors in two Colorado counties shared with town and county officials earlier this week their experience with bringing affordable housing to their region.

"It was an interesting presentation," Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison said. "We found it interesting that there were different solutions, sort of tailor-made to their (housing) problems."

All three commissioners joined representatives from the Regional Affordable Living Foundation, the city of Steamboat Springs and outlying towns to better determine how outlying communities could benefit from a multijurisdictional housing authority. The meeting marked the second time the group met to discuss forming the multijurisdictional housing authority.

The housing authority directors for Grand and Summit counties provided real-life examples of how a housing authority operates and what it can accomplish, Ellison said.

"It was like, 'OK, so this is what you are talking about and this is how the decisions are being made,'" he said.

The direction taken by housing authorities in Grand and Summit counties, which involve only the county and not any other entity, might not necessarily be the right route for Routt County, he said.

"The projects may, and some may not, be pertinent here," Ellison said.

The presentation afforded town and county representatives the opportunity to see housing authorities are not one-size-fits-all, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

Communities and government entities can fashion their housing authorities according to their unique needs, she said.

"Each of them does it differently," she said.

Hayden Mayor Chuck Grobe said the meeting gave him a new perspective on affordable housing.

"It was kind of a revelation for me," he said.

Often affordable housing projects are associated with building rows of low-rent apartment buildings, he said.

The housing authorities in Grand and Summit counties, however, gave people ownership by giving them the opportunity to purchase a home, he said.

One important factor in the realization of affordable housing for both counties was donated property, Stahoviak said.

The towns of Winter Park and Breckinridge purchased land and donated it to affordable housing projects, she said.

"Both gentlemen said the availability of and affordability of land is the biggest obstacle to developing affordable housing projects," Stahoviak said.

The housing authority directors said they would not have been able to make the affordable housing projects possible had they not been given land on which to build.

Representatives of outlying communities were asked to take the information back to their town boards and return to the next meeting with a better idea of where their communities stand with respect to a housing authority.

Stahoviak stressed that outlying communities were still encouraged to continue coming to the meetings, even if they eventually decided to opt out of a multijurisdictional housing authority.

The June 26 meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Routt County Commissioners' hearing room.

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