Our view: Supporting the authority

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— It comes as no surprise that a recent survey revealed a tax to support affordable housing faces long odds in Steamboat Springs.

The survey does underscore the need for the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and the city of Steamboat Springs to get on the same page.

The Housing Authority has been working on possible tax funding for months. Last month, it conducted a survey that showed a tax - in any form - is unlikely to pass. The best results the authority got was 52 percent support for a sales tax that would provide a penny for every $10 spent. That would barely cover the agency's administrative costs.

"It would keep the lights on and the doors open," said Mary Alice Page-Allen, president of the Housing Authority board of directors. "But there would be nothing : that would generate a pool of funds to help us build projects."

More significant taxes would fail, the survey showed.

From the outset, we have said the community simply is not ready to support such a tax. The cost of housing in Steamboat ranks among the top 6 percent in the country; yet, the rate of home ownership is above the national average. It is unrealistic to expect those homeowners, who make up a greater proportion of voters overall, to tax themselves to fund housing that could work against their financial interest by slowing the appreciation of their home values.

The Housing Authority has shown slow but steady progress on the affordable housing front in projects such as West End Village, Fox Creek, the acquisition of Fish Creek Mobile Home Park and Elk River Village. Without better funding, the future of such projects is in jeopardy.

Ironically, the City Council recently adopted a linkage and inclusionary zoning ordinance that could produce millions of dollars annually for affordable housing. (The amount could have been more if the council had not made the mistake of restricting to the base of the ski area the opportunity for developers to pay fees in lieu of building affordable housing).

Individual council members have said they believe the new linkage fees will be used to help fund Housing Authority projects, but the council has yet to formulate a specific spending plan.

As noted above, we believe the Housing Authority has managed to create and complete affordable housing projects in the past despite little to no funding. We supported the agency's creation in 2003 by the City Council and Routt County commissioners, and we continue to believe all affordable housing initiatives should be funneled through the agency.

The city, as City Councilman Loui Antonucci says, has no business being in the housing business. It would be a shame - not to mention a foolish waste of money - for the city to pursue its own housing efforts with its newfound revenues while allowing the Housing Authority to flounder for a lack of funds.

We acknowledge the Housing Authority has issues to address, most specifically the recent resignation of Director Elizabeth Black. But the agency's track record is commendable given its limited resources - it has accomplished the mission it was given.

Imagine what the agency could do with better funding. That's certainly food for thought for City Council members.

Comments

steamvent 6 years, 10 months ago

The city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County should be focusing their efforts on smoothing and expediting the development of West of Steamboat and stop trying to shoehorn affordable housing onto the most expensive land. Rob Dick was right several years ago when he said land values would be the biggest roadblock to reasonable housing prices. Promote affordable MARKET pricing by removing development roadblocks West of Steamboat and stop trying to manage a social program. Give people a chance to participate in the economy and not just be a recipient of a relief program with strings attached.

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rw1963 6 years, 10 months ago

No, the city has no business being in the housing business, and neither does the Housing Authority - because government has no business in the housing business.

Whether government forces some to subsidize the housing of others through taxes, or whether government forces business owners to build housing for others or to subsidize housing for others through fees -- any way you slice it, "affordable housing" is government forcibly taking the property of some individuals and giving it to other individuals who have no right to it.

The Steamboat Springs City Council should stop playing the role of a criminal -- they should protect property rights instead of violating them.

And those who truly wish to make housing affordable, should work to end government interference in the housing market -- in the planning, building, sale and usage of land and structures, including trailer houses and rentals. Try to picture what government mandates and prohibitions are costing !

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elphaba 6 years, 10 months ago

The City under it's current leadership will insist on control and micro-management of any money it considers "the City's". Just look to the disaster that Ken Brenner created regarding the Rural Fire Protection District and the City.

We need new leadership in November - maybe the term "affordable leadership" is applicable?

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JQPUBLIC 6 years, 10 months ago

elphaba.... "affordable leadership" sounds like a platform that any voter in his/her right mind would back, and something stmbt needs.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 10 months ago

"affordable leadership",,,, I like that..........

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sickofitall 6 years, 10 months ago

I'll vote it down. Theres one more for your "un-scientific" poll Scotty!

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