Housing authority


— A plan to create affordable housing options in Routt County is still on the drawing board. When -- and if -- taxpayers will give it the go-ahead is still in question.

A multi-jurisdictional housing authority would be able to impose taxes and issue tax-exempt revenue bonds. Revenue from such sources could contribute to the creation of affordable housing alternatives in Steamboat and outlying communities.

The Two Plus Housing Committee recommended that a housing authority propose a tax for a development impact fee of $1 per square foot of new construction and impose a one-mill levy within the authority.

However, approval of voters who live within the authority's district boundaries would be required for any new tax or tax increase -- and city and county officials are not counting on getting it.

Tax increases have failed miserably at the polls in recent years, Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

The current climate is unfriendly to revenue-generating ballot initiatives. But the bleak prospects for a housing authority raising funds doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile endeavor, Monger said. He supports Routt County and Steamboat Springs working together under the housing authority to address the lack of affordable housing.

City and county officials have taken a hands-off approach to recruiting smaller municipalities to join the authority. Representatives from Yampa, Oak Creek and Hayden are concerned about their towns becoming more and more bedroom communities to Steamboat Springs if more lower-priced housing goes in.

Trustees in the outlying communities have said they do not want to be used to help solve Steamboat's affordable housing problem.

A $200,000 house in the outlying towns of Steamboat is not the same thing as a $200,000 house in Steamboat.

"In time, perspectives may change," said Rob Dick, former executive director of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation. Steamboat's neighbors to the west and south may one day agree to join the partnership, he added.

The availability and affordability of land will continue to determine how successful a housing authority is and will be the biggest obstacles to developing affordable housing projects, Dick said.

Other towns in Colorado have purchased land and donated it to affordable housing projects.


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