City hires housing expert

Former Planning Commissioner Nancy Engelken settles in


— Amid many organizational changes for the city of Steamboat Springs, Nancy Engelken has been hired to fill the newly created position of community housing coordinator and will manage the city's affordable housing efforts.

Some have expressed concerns that the position would compete with or duplicate the efforts of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, a fear city officials dismissed Friday.

Engelken, the former chairwoman of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, is a Wisconsin native who moved to Steamboat four years ago. She started Wednesday and reports to Tom Leeson, whose official title has changed from planning director to planning and community development director. City Clerk Julie Jordan said Leeson's title reflects the fact that affordable housing and historic preservation have joined planning as focuses of his department.

"Tom's role has expanded," Jordan said.

In other organizational maneuvers, intergovernmental services has moved under the city's finance department, human resources has been moved directly under the city manager's office and transportation has moved under public works. The Steamboat Springs City Council will look at the restructuring in the form of an ordinance Tuesday, Jordan said.

Leeson said Engelken's hiring would allow the city to better monitor the effectiveness of affordable housing legislation - in the form of inclusionary zoning and linkage - passed last year. Engelken will collect data, conduct surveys "and make sure we're really hitting our goals," Leeson said.

"I think it will improve the efficiency," Leeson said. "I think it will help us to make sure our efforts are coordinated across the board."

At a Dec. 1 Steamboat Springs City Council retreat, Councilman Scott Myller expressed concerns that the city was undermining the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.

"I don't think I'd hire an affordable housing coordinator," Myller said at the retreat.

City Manager Alan Lanning said the position was necessary to protect the city's own interests. On Friday, Myller said he still was concerned but willing to see how the new position plays out.

"It seemed really likely that the city was moving toward creating its own housing authority and leaving the Yampa Valley Housing Authority in the dust," Myller said. "That's something I was very much against and still am. I'm not suggesting we need to move toward eliminating that position, but I'll see how that goes."

In defending the position, Leeson echoed the explanation given by Lanning at the retreat.

"It's important to make sure the regulations we have are being carried through," Leeson said. "We certainly are not going to try to duplicate or compete with anything they're doing. : We do have an obligation to monitor our own regulations."

Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Donna Howell said she hopes to discuss the issue at the next joint meeting of the Housing Authority and City Council, tentatively scheduled for February.

"I have every confidence we're going to be able to work together," Howell said. "We definitely hope we'll be discussing the issue and how we can be working together and coordinating our efforts for the best interests of the city."

Passionate pursuit

On Friday, Engelken said she still was getting her feet wet in her new job, but she already has developed many goals. Engelken, who was a stay-at-home mother doing some private consulting work before being hired by the city, said she has worked for more than 20 years on affordable housing and homeless issues.

"It's always been my passion," Engelken said. "It was a good fit, and plus to be able to work with the planning department, city staff and City Council as well as developers and the residents of Steamboat on a big issue in my community is a huge honor."

Engelken said the gap between housing costs and incomes is putting even rental opportunities out of reach for many Steamboat residents.

"That situation is only getting worse," Engelken said.

She said she hopes to look for public-private partnerships, work with the Housing Authority and educate the people of Steamboat Springs "about the need for affordable housing and what it means for every one of us to have housing for the people who work here."

She also dismissed the fear that she would duplicate Housing Authority efforts and said the issue of affordable housing is a large enough one to be attacked from many angles.

"Given the level of need that has been documented for this community alone, the more people we can involve : the better off we're going to be in the long run," Engelken said.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail


another_local 9 years, 2 months ago

At least it was not a consultant.

The city should leave this to the housing authority.


Boatcolorado1 9 years, 2 months ago

Apparently it takes zero experience to qualify as a "housing expert". Now both the City and the Housing authority have professional staff that, between them, have never financed or constructed one housing unit. So much for making any progress on affordable housing.


thecondoguy1 9 years, 2 months ago

I am thrilled at the opportunity to read "sbvor" before he/she was removed, it could not have been said and represented better............ thank you for the good thinking and the valid links, it would be great for people to review this material, why is the truth and reality so difficult to crasp, I just don't understand, keep the good stuff coming. It may will get through to the voters. Thanks.......


thecondoguy1 9 years, 2 months ago

I agree it would be prudent to disclose these numbers, a boondogle of this magnitude must be accountable, and generate considerable visability in order to be remotely valid in the public eye, Pilot, Brandon, how about it, what does this cost us?


steamboatsconscience 9 years, 2 months ago

OMG, I never thought that I would ever agree with sbore, but he is right on this. however it aint Socialism, its just plain old Tammany Hall cronyism and back room deals that we the constituents have no say on, just like the Iron Horse deal. "My poor old buddy Nancy isn't making enough money now, lets create a job for her and give her a $100K a year and a pension compliments of the taxpayers just like we did for Donna." Who will be next ? This is total BS and Lanning needs to go. Time for a revolution folks, time to fight City Hall! Viva Che! Viva Zapata!


steamboatsconscience 9 years, 2 months ago

sbore Dude, I know who Milton Friedman is. how about staying on subject, which is the city adding another useless layer of BUREAUCRATIC middle management that further insulates "Boss Tweed", in this case, Lanning, from the responsibilities of HIS job so he can puff on his Cohiba with his feet on his desk , while we taxpayers PAY for it with OUR hard earned devalued Dollars that we make in our CAPITALISTIC society, and not beans or rice that our public servants would be paid in a Socialistic society. this is not a debate about Soc/ Comm/ Cap. it is about back room dealings, cronyism, nepotism, whatever you want to call it. was this so called "job" ever advertised for in the newspaper? I dont know, so if anyone does that would be enlightening, however I'll bet that it was created especially for Ms.Engelken, "the former chairwoman of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission." That alone speaks volumes. I am also disappointed that only one council member spoke out against this. well sbore, all I can say is that Hugo Chavez would be proud of our Mr. Lanning, and that if he ever needed a job there would be a spot in his cabinet for him.


raver 9 years, 2 months ago

As long as we have greedy realtors/developers and ultra wealthy people able to buy here, there will never be real affordable housing in steamboat.


btheball 9 years, 2 months ago

Alan Lanning sure acts like the Mayor. Not beholden to Council, at least, on behalf of the citizens. Weird ... how we can't vote him vote him out.?


JLM 9 years, 2 months ago

Hey, let's start keeping score on this game!

How many "affordable" housing units does SS have as of 1 January 2007 and how many do they plan to have by 1 January 2008 CAUSE ONLY RESULTS COUNT on this subject, friends?

If SS is going to have an affordable housing czarina then the czarina should be held accountable.

This is a perfect example of the public sector being unable, unwilling and afraid to harness the power of the private sector to create a public good cause somebody might actually make a buck in the process.

Take all the extra land surrounding Haymaker and GIVE it to someone who will develop apartments which will rent for 75% of market. That dog would hunt big time!

If you truly want affordable housing then you have got to build something and do it quickly. Costs are only going to keep going higher and higher.


bigdog 9 years, 2 months ago

can someone please define for simple me what exactly an "affordable" house is?


dave reynolds 9 years, 2 months ago

lol..yep what "they" think is affordable in reality isn't wonder where he his houseis worth at least 500,000..i agre with knowitall..try making it on a 35000 dollar yearly income then truely you will understand what affordable really is


Steve Lewis 9 years, 2 months ago

Affordable housing (AH) is housing which takes 30% or less of your income to own (mort, int, HOA fees).

I support the City's effort to provide AH. The effort is new, but I would guess about 100 AH units are now promised (based on already approved projects) via the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance and those will be occupied in 2-3 years time. (Wildhorse Meadows will have about 70.)

If you like more traffic, having most and eventually all of the blue collar workforce for Steamboat driving from Hayden and Oak Creek may make sense to you. Not to me. And I like having the younger workers and their kids making lives here beside mine. It makes a better town.

Harry Frampton is a major developr in Eagle County, has been for many years. He told Steamboat when he spoke here last year: the biggest one thing they should have done there sooner was buy the land for AH within the community.

Whitney Ward, Brent Pearson, Jim Cook... They are developers building locally and I've heard them all say they agree with the need for providing workforce housing.

Its the smart choice for Steamboat.

-Steve Lewis


elphaba 9 years, 2 months ago

Exactly what are the "City's interests" in this Mr. Lanning?


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