How housing funds will be used still to be determined

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Kids get off the bus in the West End Village neighborhood in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday afternoon. Funds from the city's new affordable housing ordinance could be used to create similar neighborhoods that mix free market and deed-restricted homes.

— Steamboat Springs' new affordable housing ordinance could generate millions of dollars annually.

But exactly how that money will be spent still must be resolved, city officials acknowledged Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, the City Council approved an inclusionary zoning and linkage ordinance that requires new development to help provide affordable housing.

The linkage fee alone will produce $1 million for every 54,000 square feet of new commercial development, assuming developers choose to pay the fee rather than build the required workforce housing. Linkage fees on residential construction and payments-in-lieu of meeting inclusionary zoning requirements will add to the revenues.

All of the new funds will go into a distinct account reserved for affordable housing efforts, City Manager Alan Lanning said.

"Now that it has passed, it is incumbent upon us to put in place mechanisms that will actually build affordable housing," Lanning said. "As we approach budget season this year, I'm sure we are going to have some ideas for how to use those funds."

Councilman Towny Anderson called the approval of the ordinance "a watershed event" for the city.

"I've been getting calls today from people saying, 'My God, we've been talking about this for 30 years. I didn't think you'd ever be able to do it. Congratulations,'" he said.

Councilwoman Karen Post said Tuesday night that while the council was approving a housing ordinance to generate significant revenues, she has not yet seen even a "skeletal plan" for spending those revenues.

But Anderson said getting the ordinance approved was the critical first step in the affordable housing process. He said the city has a plan for spending the money - it's just not on paper yet.

"I can't speak for council," Anderson said. "But what I hope will happen is that we will set up a housing fund and the money will be funneled to the (Yampa Valley) Housing Authority to give us more flexibility to meet the community's housing need."

The Housing Authority was created by the city and Routt County in 2003. It relies on grants and donations from the city and county for funding. City Councilman Loui Antonucci, who voted against the new housing policy Tuesday night because he thinks the fees are too high, said it makes sense for the City Council to use the new revenues to help the Housing Authority.

"Personally, my vision always has been (that) the Yampa Valley Housing Authority is the city's arm for developing affordable housing," Antonucci said. "The reason we (created the authority) is that we really didn't think the city should be in the housing business. I certainly think working with the authority on developing a plan and giving them the funds to execute that plan would be the most appropriate use" of revenues from the new housing policy.

Mary Alice Page-Allen, a Routt County planner and the president of the Housing Authority's board of directors, said the approval of the new ordinance creates a new pool of housing funds. But she said it was premature to say how the ordinance might benefit the authority.

"It is money collected by the city that is under the control of the city," Page-Allen said. "As far as anything specifically, we haven't had that conversation with them."

The city and the Housing Authority have held joint sessions in recent months to clarify roles and responsibilities, Page-Allen said.

"Our current relationship is if we have a project that we need funding on, we talk to the city," she said. "It's on a project-by-project basis. I don't know whether to anticipate any change in that process."

Page-Allen said the Housing Authority will continue to explore a permanent funding source, including a sales or property tax. The agency has been conducting polling to gauge public support for such a tax.

Antonucci hopes the council majority shares his vision of using new revenues to help the authority, but he said the council and the authority have not always been on the same page in recent months.

Anderson said funds could be used to meet housing needs that are not likely to be pursued by private developers. Examples include land acquisition, multi-unit rental housing and neighborhoods like West End Village that include a mixture of market-rate housing and deed-restricted homes.

Anderson is confident the money will be put to good use.

"There is this fear that the funds will go down a black hole, but once you put a fund together, it can't be robbed," Anderson said. "Those funds will be spent to meet the community's housing need."

- To reach Scott Stanford, call 871-4221

or e-mail sstanford@steamboatpilot.com.

Comments

thecondoguy1 7 years, 2 months ago

there is no excuse for our locals not to pass a drug test, I have pee for sale, and have not been stoned for years..........

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

TCG1- Pee for sale?? Maybe you can put up a street cart for vending! Just make the sign in BIG letters so there's no mistaking it for anything else. (No yellow snow...cones.)

Hadleyburg- In that type of instance, I could see affordable rent. Living in my mother's old Walton Village 1bdrm condo for 5-ish years, outgrowing it after 2yrs, my wife and I were able to save money for when we finally bought our own house. I wish we could have afforded her WV condo (not the townhomes that came later) on top of buying our house. In 2001, we could have bought it for around $70,000. Now, those barely 600sq ft. units have been selling around $230,000...6 years later. One's listed for $259,000 now!

Still, people need to be able to purchase where they work. I think in the long run, it will help the economy more than harm it.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

"Anderson is confident the money will be put to good use."

Woooo! Consultant heaven!!!! Just think of how much consultation that money will buy!!! Of course, by consultation, I mean psychiatrists.

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another_local 7 years, 2 months ago

Anyone want to bet that we now have a study to determine how to spend the money. Perhaps the money "can't be robbed" but there is nothing to prevent it being poorly spent.

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Jennifer Schubert-Akin 7 years, 2 months ago

They don't even have a "skeletal plan" for how to spend this vast pool of money...what an unbelievable level of arrogance.

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WZ4EVER 7 years, 2 months ago

Towny says that "I've been getting calls today from people saying, 'My God, we've been talking about this for 30 years. I didn't think you'd ever be able to do it. Congratulations,'"

Maybe I don't get out often enough, but I don't hear of or from very many supporters of this deal ...actual beneficiaries, not real estate hucksters and developers looking to cash in (where is Rob Dick?) but who IS in favor of this? For the working Joe out there, you only have a 5% chance of using this fund and a 95% chance of paying LOTS HIGHER costs to house you and your family.

Of course, if you get to build this stuff or sell the land to the City you have a 100% chance of making YOUR housing affordable - to you.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 2 months ago

wz4ever....but who IS in favor of this? I am, I missed the last circus that came to town!! Seriously....Antonucci said. "The reason we (created the authority) is that we really didn't think the city should be in the housing business.....If that's true then the money should go straight to the housing authority but the council will never give up the purse strings. "It is money collected by the city that is under the control of the city", you can bet it's going to stay that way too. Lanning said. "I'm sure we are going to have some ideas for how to use those funds."... spoken like a true politician.... "the Housing Authority will continue to explore a permanent funding source, including a sales or property tax... ANTE UP again everyone!! There is one bright side to this, it may get some responsible, intelligent candidates (with common sense) to step up and get elected so they can repeal this idiotic "tax" before it gets way out of hand.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

JQ- I am also for this...providing the money is spent properly. I just don't want it shoring up shortfalls in other areas of the City government.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 2 months ago

Sorry Matt, reread...my sarcasm is showing. 1st.. I don't think affordable housing works, they may have a chance with rental condos and townhouses but that's about it. As far as the money being spent properly.... you can bet your lunch... when they need money for another project they will find a way to get it from this fund. I just don't think it's fair to make everyone else pay so that someones maid or bartender can afford to buy a house. Is our next tax to help them furnish their new home, or maybe a new vehicle, or hell, we can all pay a new tax that subsidizes wages, that'll help the business owners get help.

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jeannie berger 7 years, 2 months ago

JQ, is a maid or a bartender any less deserving of owning their own home.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

In answer to JQ:

Sure dreamriver23, but "Not In My Back Yard." As long as the menial help lives in a bedroom community, they are free to own as they wish. Now, the bedroom community known as Craig- a lot of people are finding out that making $12/hr in Steamboat isn't worth the wear & tear on a POV (privately owned vehicle) or the gas compared to finding a Craig job that pays $9/hr.

The SST Craig-Steamboat is between $75-$100 a week to and from, so that's close to the gas spent driving yourself, but no wear & tear. My friend put close to 35,000 miles on his car driving himself from Craig to work and back for 1 year. That's a lot of miles for just work. That didn't include normal driving around his home or for vacation.

Pretty soon, all the people who "got theirs" will start wondering where all the menial workers are going to come from. We're already there: they come from Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia, etc. Now all we do is wait for people to complain about non-citizens taking our jobs...ooooohhhhh, thaaaaaat's right: "We're already there!"

So: how simple is it to just help a local get to own their home here, where they work?

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Richard Levy 7 years, 2 months ago

This is not a low income problem. According to a recent Pilot article even police officers can't afford to live here http://www2.steamboatpilot.com/news/2...

"One of our biggest challenges is finding good applicants who are able to afford to live here," Rae (SS Police Capt) said. "It's tough."

Teachers and Firefighters probably make even less than police officers. Don't forget who we are really trying to serve

Most housing advocates

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Richard Levy 7 years, 2 months ago

The payment in lieu option will be used instead of building the actual units. Once YVHA or the city gets its hands on the money let's see how much will go to housing units and how much will go to consultants, overhead and how much will just plain "dissappear".

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 2 months ago

lets hope this is managed more efficient than the name of the authority's president, what ever happened to one name, like Cher, Sting, or Bono? this money will go up in smoke just for stationary to get her name on it......

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

Up in Smoke had 1 namers...technically. Cheech and Chong

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

So Hash- If everybody got ahead, who'd be your cashier? Also, that Russian is probably only here on a work visa, same as in Steamboat. That money goes back to Russia. Makes more economic sense than helping a local, right?

Did you know that most J1 or H2B workers in Steamboat are not only paid the same rate as local workers next to them, but sometimes they have their housing paid for (or heavily discounted) in order to get them to be able to stay? Sometimes, that means putting them up in Hayden or Craig...and paying their way to get to work since they don't bring their POV's with them.

So, the money put out to bring that person it to do a job locals can't take because they can't afford to live here just ended up costing a lot more, with tax revenue going bye-bye. Go Team! That's the American Way, right? Yep! Much better than helping a local in the same job. Plus, a lot of these Russians (aren't they technically a democracy now? Most of the workers coming over weren't even alive to remember living in the USSR.) work very hard. A by-product of Socialism? That's bad, right?

Oh, and it's nice to know that you think every low paying job must be filled by idiots and dopeheads.

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elphaba 7 years, 2 months ago

Is this a great City or what? I was going to give my employees a living wage raise but now I can put the money in my own pocket.....It's the City's responsibility to see that they can afford to live here - not mine.

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snowysteamboat 7 years, 2 months ago

Just a point of clarification for Matt. When purchased with a punch card, its $3.50 each way to Craig on the bus. That's 7 bucks a day, 35 or 40 dollars a week, not $75 to $100.

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

Snowy- that depends on how many jobs you have, and if you are working 7 days a week, but thanks for the correction. Remember: even people working 2 to 3 jobs still can't always afford it here.

Still, this is what happens in the industry here. Everyone in the industry knows it. All this and people still can get enough staffing, even with bring people in from out of country. It's not a fantasy. Just go to any property management company and ask if you can start today as a housekeeper, with a resume saying you've had plenty of experience. You'll see a new definition of "giddy." Or, try asking if you can drive a shuttle this winter.

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Hadleyburg_Press 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree with you SBvor that the only approach that even remotely makes sense is affordable rentals. Not some socialist, non-representative goverment, sponsored voluntary indentureship. Bad, bad social engineering by "good intentions". Glaring negative outcomes when the "law of unitended consequences" is applied. How blind can these "visionaries" be? I would love to play anyone of them a game of chess for money...

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 2 months ago

Hadleyburg Press- So by forcing the rental prices down, doesn't that do the exact same thing you'd protest: forcing the owner to lose revenue on the rental?

BTW- it's been years, but I'll play you in chess anytime. Or, I'll play RISK, if you like.

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Hadleyburg_Press 7 years, 2 months ago

Matt, If we are going to have a housing authority that is funded by the city then I would assume that they will be acting as the landlord on behalf of the tax paying communities holdings. I still don't like that set up, but it would be a better approach imo than the whole deed restricted situation. I would never tamper with rent control involving a private citizen's equity. I prefer chess to risk. Thanks and have a nice weekend!

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