Tinker Tiffany: Support housing

Advertisement

As I remember it, our City Council decided on the purchase of the Iron Horse Inn to supply affordable housing for city employees. I pictured, for example, housing for badly needed bus drivers.

I thought it wonderful that our council was putting into action what they are requiring of some private developers, to supply affordable housing. We, as taxpayers, are putting money where our mouths are. I am very indignant to hear the comments about reneging on this deal.

First, I highly doubt that one city-subsidized housing complex is going to make the private rental sector "not even try." Just take a look at all the massive construction going on - there are more condos and apartment complexes going up everywhere. And on those huge projects, the city is making them have some affordable units. I bet some of those units would not go in if not required by the city.

Second, flipping the Iron Horse for profit displays the short-sighted sell/make-money-now attitude in contrast to the long-term vision of providing much-needed affordable housing to attract and keep city employees. The council's intent was very clear here and motivated by altruism and need, not greed. After all, the city is not in the private business of flipping for profit.

Thirdly, it appears backing out or selling is going to cost us far more on many levels.

Lastly, I hope our council will come together on this and follow through with the support this project deserves. To revisit and fight over this is a willful waste of our tax dollars. We have seen far too many examples of fiscal loss due to personal agendas and squabbles in this town recently and we do not need another. We said we want affordable housing, now lets move on and accomplish it.

Tinker Tiffany

Steamboat Springs

Comments

another_local 6 years, 11 months ago

Nonsense. If the city wants to help employees afford housing and at the same time have better success attracting and retaining the employees we need, they should do so by giving $500 per month raises to the lowest paid half of city employees (amounts to about $3 an hour) It would solve the problem and would be LESS expensive than the net negative cash flow of several hundred thousand per year that the Iron Horse plan produces.

An extra $500 a month is enough to make the difference between making the rent and not making it.

The Iron horse is a mistake.

0

Gadfly 6 years, 11 months ago

The writer is absolutely right about the importance of affordable employee housing -- even the temporary housing that the Iron Horse would supposedly provide. But (and it's a big BUT) the Iron Horse is the wrong mechanism for doing it. Please get a copy of the Iron Horse's budget for 2008 (it's called the Employee Housing Fund), and it will show you what a poor decision buying the Iron Horse was. You will see that the City plans to take in almost a half million dollars in rents in 2008 after they complete the extensive renovations. IF they make that half million, they will still need a $150,000 subsidy from the Community Housing Fund. If they don't make the half million in rents, they will need a bigger subsidy in 2008 and in every year thereafter. In order to make their rent revenue goal, they will need to keep all 40 units occupied all year for 25 years -- something any lodging provider would say is impossible. I agree with another_local that there are many better ways to subsidize employee housing than this one. If the City insists on keeping this mistake, it should at least provide the annual subsidy from its own budget and not from the community's affordable housing fund.

0

Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

another_local- Where does the extra money come from for a $3 and hour raise?

0

Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

Plus, just like any "home" in Steamboat, the City could pop $1 million into the Iron Horse, and turn it around to sell at a significant profit. Sounds like smart business to me.

0

Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

No, renting out a unit to the general tourist public for 25yrs is improbable. Putting a person in paying rent as affordable housing- I'll bet you there's a line at the door trying to get in.

0

nxoby36 6 years, 11 months ago

the next thing coming will be the company store then we will have come full circle Mt. Harris all over again , supply the "working poor" with housing , food , education and a poorly paid job all controlled by the "company" it stunk back then and it stinks now the money wasted upon the purchase of the "iron horse" could have been put to better use as an across the board raise to all city employes paid by the hour allowing them to afford living here and giving them the dignity of life that all americans strive for until the bus drivers make an equal or better wage then the dump truck drivers in town we will still have the higher skilled drivers hauling rocks and bus passengers lives in the the hands of those willing to work for less

0

buck 6 years, 11 months ago

The Iron Horse was a move toward Socialism, which was where the last city council's heart was. They wanted to control who lives in Steamboat, and by controlling housing, their goal could be achieved. Giving cheap rent was just a minor goal in a much larger, centralist-government plan. Pay employees a decent wage, but don't control their housing, or any other part of their lives.

0

housepoor 6 years, 11 months ago

The fact of the matter is that in the future businesses will need to provide housing options if they have any chance of fulfilling their employment needs. Does anyone think any of this new construction will be put into the long term rental pool, with a low end 2bdrm going for $400,000? Larger employers such as the ski area, county and hospital had better follow suit. I'm not sure that a more suitable location west of town wouldn't have been more prudent but the idea of providing housing is right on and proactive

0

Gadfly 6 years, 11 months ago

I have to believe that if the Housing Authority had been asked about the Iron Horse purchase -- or even been told about it before it happened -- that the Authority could have come up with a better idea. Council's job was to say to the HA "we need affordable, medium-term rental housing for employees." Then it should have been the Authority's job to figure out how to meet that goal. After all, that's why the city and county created the Authority in the first place.

0

agentofchange 6 years, 11 months ago

George Orwell anyone? Yes, if we had not voted those 3 out... well, let's now undo our little Animal Farm, and the sooner the better.

0

Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

Undo...LOL! Not sure if people actually read this article, but so far, a lot of 4-3 voting on the first night. Nothing has truly changed just yet.

0

Gadfly 6 years, 11 months ago

But please note, Matthew: the 4-3 votes were always different 4's and different 3's, which tells me they were divided on the issues, not along voting blocks. That's a refreshing change already.

0

retiredinss 6 years, 11 months ago

I have earlier said, and would like to remind the bloggers here that the City and the County have a major long term project, Vision 2030 underway, which is an excellent medium for better communicating and understanding the housing issues and providing long term solutions for them. If you are truly interested in the community, the county get involved in Vision 2030. See their website:

www.vision2030routt.org

Cheers!

0

dimwitiguess 6 years, 11 months ago

Housing is an issue in Steamboat? Nah. We will talk about housing from now til the cows come home and no one will do anything about it because it is just easier to talk about it than to really do something that may really put words into action. Just another Steamboat thing.

We have a community that really cares about each other? We'll have a fund raiser now and then to make ourselves feel better, but just like our community on a national level, we don't have the guts or the will power or the empathy or caring that we like to slap ourselves on the back about. No we're a community of talkers and placators.

No one REALLY cares about the poor blokes who have it tough here. This is the capitalistic way. If you're any good you wouldn't need help with housing, you'd pick yourselves up by your own bootstraps. But hey, it's me again, back from the sunny south and still a dimwitiguess.

0

Scott Wedel 6 years, 11 months ago

The most obvious flaw with the Iron Horse for employee housing is what sort of housing it would provide. It is not well suited for families or for locals to use as their long term residences. It is temporary guest worker housing. Thus, the City is committing itself to a long term plan of temporary workers to provide essential government services. That is a solution???

0

Steve Lewis 6 years, 11 months ago

Tiffany you are right on with your letter. I'm glad to see even some of the negative responses above also agree that workforce housing is a need. The biggest developers: Atira at Ski Time Square, Dave Hill, Brent Pearson and Whitney Ward at One Steamboat Place and Wildhorse Meadows. They all agree with and supported the affordable housing need. One of Vail's largest developers, Harry Frampton told a local gathering that the one thing they would do over in Vail was their city waited too long to buy the necessary land. The Iron Horse was a smart move, and will look smarter and smarter over the long term. Flipping it is a realtors short term $ mentality. A city has other responsibilities to meet, like providing bus drivers to get your bank teller to work every day. Steve Lewis

0

STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 11 months ago

Thank you Lewi Everyone needs the bus drivers... Not just tourists!

What other benefits does the city offer other than housing at the Iron Horse? Any health insurance?

Is offering the possibility of housing at the Iron Horse just a short term fix to a bigger problem the city faces?

With the cost of gas escalating so quickly, living in the more affordable towns in Routt County will also not be as disireable as living near Steamboat. If potential workers cannot afford the gas to get here, they probably cannot afford their own transportation either. So they will also need the SST.

Does anyone else see a vicious circle here?

0

agentofchange 6 years, 11 months ago

My gosh people, is there anyone around here not in line for a "handout"?? Why is this notion of "entitlement" so common around here? You all talk about how Steamboat has changed, well it has, and it has changed from the independent bunch that we all were years ago (Steve Lewis, when you and I were banging nails) to a bunch of spoiled brats looking for a handout. Mom and Dad can't take care of you anymore. Grow up and take charge of your life. Sorry, I do go on. Oh that's better... I'm having a yoga moment. Yes, that's better. Anyway, I mean it GROW UP!

0

Vince arroyo 6 years, 11 months ago

The rath has just begun!( Fortress/intra west/ Aitra/ Edgemont- Jim Cook ) they are all in this together- they do have a 7 year plan of search, invest build and sell to the highest bidder. People do your resaerch . Now why doesn't the pilot print this. Because its the truth. Also as far as the current elected council. look at the first meeting as far as whom had to step down Jon Quinn ( his add said that he wasn't in the developer's, pockets. He works for all of the above. Let's see if the rug rat pack will do our city good. Concerned citizens thank You

0

Harvey Lyon 6 years, 11 months ago

One of the keys to affordable housing is "tract homes". A developer buys a large chunk of property...a "tract" and builds many homes based on 3 or 4 models with few, but some, custom features available.

They all pretty much look the same but that's okay. Interiors are nice but counter tops are tile or formica....not granite. Lot layouts are generally "a view" or a larger lot.

This method of development has worked well for many bedroom communities near large cities and can be clearly seen on the front range.

0

agentofchange 6 years, 11 months ago

hometown, all in it together? I think not! That is so absurb.

Read my previous comment. This thread is about "handouts". Tell you what, if you don't like our economic system here in this USA of ours, get up, run for office, and maybe someone will vote for you. What you are bummed with happens to be reality.

Jon Quinn fishes wire and sets up tech systems, hardly in a Developers pocket. He just did the right thing. I don't believe he should have stepped down. That's like someone who works for waste mgt. being elected, and having to step down because they collected a Developers trash.

Bless you.

0

rodcarew 6 years, 11 months ago

I love it when people who got here 30 years ago tell the newbies today that they're not working their tails off enough to afford housing like they did. The curves for increase in housing costs has skyrocketed over that time, while the curve for increase in wages has been fairly flat. It's not even the same ballgame. You try starting off again in 2007 and see how well you do!

0

bubba 6 years, 11 months ago

Hometown, I think the reason the pilot doesn't print that is because conspiracy theories are not news. I agree with Agent of Change on the Quinn front- if a councilmember worked at safeway, would they have to step down from a vote because the developer eats food?

By the way- I like how you say 'sell to the highest bidder' like it's a bad thing; the market price of anything is how much someone else is willing to pay for it. I don't plan on selling my house to the low bidder when I move, does that make me part of some evil conspiracy too? I searched for it, invested, you could say my renovations are building, so what makes a homeowner different than this evil conspiracy you are citing?

And so I am not ignoring the topic of the article here, I don't think supporting housing for the community and thinking the ironhorse rent to own deal is stupid are mutually exclusive. The simple fact is that the terms of the deal are completely unfavorable to the city. If I remember right, the Atira guys (ski time square anyway) had looked at buying this to provide their affordable housing, but backed out, so the city swept in and bought it. My theory (which makes at least as much sense as some of the other theories thrown out on these forums) is that the finance guys at Atira determined that this was not a cost effective way to provide their affordable housing requirement so they backed out. And you can bet that they were looking at an outright purchase, not some rent-to-own scheme like the city got into.

0

rodcarew 6 years, 11 months ago

Quinn should've stepped down. The difference between him and an employee of Safeway or Waste Management is that he owns the company. Do you think he could look an applicant with which he does business with, in the eye at a Council meeting and vote no on his multi-million dollar application? It's simply not going to happen. That, is a conflict of interest. He could stand to lose an account.

This is opposed to an employee at Safeway, which incidentally has happened before, who will not lose (nor gain) financially and who will still have his job even if he votes no on that same multi-million dollar application.

0

rodcarew 6 years, 11 months ago

At this point in the game, because of the cost of land, all affordable housing will be a net loss, unless you get the land for free. It's just a reality. If we require such projects to "pencil" to be successful, then they will never happen. If we truly want such housing, we have to accept this fact. And that is why the free market will never ever provide affordable housing again in Steamboat (other than what they are required to do by the city). The only entity that could and would pull it off is the city or, better yet, the Housing Authority with a funding source.

0

bubba 6 years, 11 months ago

The discussion of John is somewhat irrelevant, I know him and he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would let one business account compromise his morals, especially in small town politics. Either way, he stepped down.

Sure, the free market is not going to provide housing at a loss. And the ones the city require them to supply are not being produced by the 'free' market per se. BUT just because something doesn't 'pencil' business-wise doesn't mean that the city should lock itself into bad deals, they should still look for cost-effective ways of doing it, and in this case, I think they dropped the ball.

The mission statement downtown at centennial hall has a bit about forming public-private partnerships in order to meet their goals (hopefully more eloquently stated than that). So far, we've seen none of those on this front, and this is probably the most costly one. Who is more likely to understand cost effective ways of providing housing- someone who makes their living by building and selling housing, or the local government (who, inexplicably, left the housing authority out of the discussion of this deal?) If affordable housing is the goal, get some of the smart folks who build stuff in this town in a room to come up with an idea of how to do it as inexpensively as possible, like the mission statement says, don't go behind closed doors and negotiate bad deals on dilapidated hotels!

0

bubba 6 years, 11 months ago

And for what it's worth, land is not the only constraint. If you add up construction costs, city fees (including the affordable housing ordinance, which basically increases the cost of a single unit's construction by 15%), insurance, design, approvals, and all of the other things that go into building a house, I bet you are well over what people would consider 'affordable' before you find a piece of dirt for it. If this were not the case, doesn't the city own land that it could build on- I bet they'd waive a lot of the fees and expedite the approval process compared to what the private sector deals with, and still lose money on 'affordable' prices

0

rodcarew 6 years, 11 months ago

Your public/private comment, bubba, is part of the solution. I've seen other resort towns that put our RFP's for private construction of affordable housing with public funds. First, they give 3-4 design firms some money to design an AH project, then the appoint a community panel to pick the best one. Then they put out an RFP for contractors to build them. They have to provide the product within an established budget, which requires them to be efficient with public funds to make a decent profit. This is as opposed to the city managing the construction, with all of the attendant change orders and cost overruns. If we had a funding source, this could be an option.

Your point about the other costs of construction are valid and free land may still not be enough. At least if you did do restricted affordable housing, you wouldn't get hit again for the city housing requirement.

This is a good discussion with lots of ideas. I'm still not convinced that simply raising wages across the board would allow people in need to suddenly be able to afford housing. It would have to be one hell of a raise and then what would that do to business costs having to pay the higher wages?

0

another_local 6 years, 11 months ago

Higher wages are a fact of life around here. Nearly all jobs pay better here than they do most places. The fact that the city is getting behind the curve on the issue is simply a fact. When the jobs go unfilled the wages are too low. Period.
Wages here have risen about 30% in the last five years which is a good bit faster than inflation except for housing and gasoline.

What does it cost to make up the difference between affordable rent and unaffordable? I guess that will vary with many factors, but with single condo units renting for 300-400 a month more than they did a couple of years ago a $3 an hour raise would more than make up the difference. The same raise would help the city compete in hiring the people they need. You can hand out a LOT of $3 raises to people making less than $20 an hour before you reach the kind of annual expense the negative cash flow on the Iron Horse deal will produce.

0

Vince arroyo 6 years, 11 months ago

thank you for all the great communicational comment's. Whats affordable 150,000 300,000 ?

0

rodcarew 6 years, 11 months ago

Hometown: affordable means different things for different people depending on a lot of factors, namely your income and family status. Some also define it as not spending more than 30% of your montly income as mortgage or rent.

Okay, we'll assume a $3/hr. raise. Here's a few questions: Are you going to give it to all city employees or just the one's needing housing? How would you eliminate the fairness issue between employees who get it and those who don't? Does the raise come with an automatic annual increase to keep it on pace with the increase in rents? Does it grandfather or keep going forever?

I would assume that you would have to maintain the raise program, with annual increases, for life to accomplish the same results as the purchase of the Iron Horse. After about 20-25 years of this, I would think that you would result in approximately the same amount as needed to buy the Iron Horse. At that point, the costs for the raise would continue on, while the building and remodel would be paid for. Maybe I'm deluded, but that seems like a better deal.

0

another_local 6 years, 11 months ago

The "fairness issue" is a figment of your imagination. Raises need to be offered until the employer is able to fill the positions they have vacant. If the professional positions are filled, they do not need to give raises to higher paid workers simply because lower paid employees get them.

Even if you think owning property and renting it to employees is a good way to go, buying an income producing hotel property on the highway and spending hundreds of thousands to convert it while still not achieving very high density it a poor way to go about it.

0

Vince arroyo 6 years, 11 months ago

Thanks rodacrew. I also heard from the affordable housing people that affordable is $300'00 according to their views. plus We don't have the employee's now.No its doesn't grandfather them in. So no snow? Maybe until Dec 16 lets see how things will pan out?

0

STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 11 months ago

Snow or no Snow There are still employee problems. There are still housing issues. There will never be a perfect solution that will make everyone happy.

It is a very good thing that SS is trying to improve it's ability to provide or offer some low cost housing to those who make the infrastructure of SS work.

Not only is SS home to many families, it is also a tourist destination. Because of one you have the other. This is truly something to be thankful for. Sure there are problems. Every municipality has problems.

Is the Iron Horse a perfect solution. Probably not. But it is a step in the right direction. Not trying to do something would be a step backward.

Try to figure out how hourly workers would be able to save enough for a down payment on affordable housing. It is not possible. Rentals for a regular Studio appartment in SS start at the $850 per month range. Add utilities and groceries. There isn't much left. What about transportation? Without bus service ( paid or free) a car would also be needed, so add gas, insurance and car payments. The above would eat up the entire paycheck. AND I haven't even mention health insurance which most hourly workers are not provided with since the are considered "seasonal".

Think Steamboat!! Think real hard.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.