Our View: Housing strategy undefined

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If anything has been made clear during the past couple of months, it's that the city of Steamboat Springs must define its role in the affordable housing movement.

As it stands, city staff and City Council appear to be on different pages. With support from city staff, the previous City Council signed off on the $4.05 million purchase of the Iron Horse Inn, a motel just east of the downtown district. The intent was to provide low-rent housing for city employees.

The newly elected City Council, however, has balked at the cost of the purchase and planned renovations while also questioning a financial plan that shows a 10-year operating loss of $667,174. We believe those concerns are valid. On Tuesday, the council discussed continuing to operate the inn both as a nightly rental accommodation for tourists and a long-term rental property for residents.

The Iron Horse isn't the only example of the city's lack of clear direction and strategy on the affordable housing front. The city recently created a housing coordinator position and hired former Planning Commission member Nancy Engelken to fill it. Meanwhile, the city is contributing $105,000 in 2008 to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority's operating budget.

The city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County created the multi-jurisdictional Housing Authority in 2003 for the purpose of financing, constructing and managing housing projects and programs. With limited budget and staffing, the Housing Authority has done an admirable job fulfilling that mission. Housing Authority projects have included West End Village, Fox Creek Village, the acquisition of Fish Creek Mobile Home Park and Elk River Village. It also has overseen several self-help housing programs in Oak Creek and Hayden.

As City Manager Alan Lanning pointed out last week, the success of affordable housing programs comes down to money. The city now has revenue streams in place, but there's clearly a strong hesitation toward sharing those funds with the Housing Authority.

And perhaps that's the right approach, if the city comes out with a clear strategy for what they want to accomplish with affordable housing, and how they plan to accomplish it.

Lanning says Engelken will be instrumental in developing an affordable housing strategy. He also says a number of agencies, including the Housing Authority, need to be involved in this community-wide endeavor.

Lanning appears to very much want to be in the housing business. Conversely, City Council President Loui Antonucci said this summer the city has no business in the housing business.

Which one will it be? Only the city can decide, but it's a decision that can't be put off any longer. Give us a clear strategy, and send a clear message to the Housing Authority. Until that time, we're left to scratch our heads at the duplication of efforts.

Comments

Scott Wedel 6 years, 6 months ago

We can hope that newly hired city housing coordinator Nancy Engelken will quickly suggest that her job should either be eliminated or be moved to the Housing Authority.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 6 months ago

It is expensive to live in Steamboat.

The few affordable housing options have waiting lists. Or require a one year lease.

Temporary seasonal workers are forced to either live in employee housing (for the mountain, only) or live far away from SS. The Iron Horse has given some the opportunity to live near where the work is. Sure there are multiple persons "living" in a unit. But how many are there at any one time?? If one works nights and someone else works days.... only one person might be there at a time.

There is a shortage of affordable housing available in SS. If you are anable to sign a one year lease ( If it was available) or commit to living here for a whole year what are the options?? The Iron Horse has given several workers an oportunity this "season".

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addlip2U 6 years, 6 months ago

SLUM LORD The City is now a slum lord? ....is this even legal. Urban / Steamboat renewal and 60's - are we going back in time?

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 6 months ago

JustAsking =, another good thinker............. I especially like the " DO GOODERS" analogy, lets impower ourselves, not the "do gooders", work hard save your money, it works and you are not obligated to people you can't trust.........

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another_local 6 years, 6 months ago

Loui is right. The city has no business being in housing. Give the money to the housing authority and drop the city position (or loan it to the authority if that works better) but stop duplicatiing efforts and wasting funds.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 6 months ago

Pilot, As you know, the Housing Authority is only interested in building units, and not in setting policy. If the Housing Authority were all this valley had working on creating housing, there would be NO Inclusionary Zoning and the 96 affordable units coming to Wildhorse Meadows would NOT be coming.

Your editorial oversimplifies to the point of harmful ignorance.

-Steve Lewis

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 6 months ago

"96 Housing units at Wildhorse Meadows."

These will not be short term housing? Will they?

What is the target renter/owner of these units? Families? Singles? Legals or Illegals?

If affordable means that they cost $300 thousand and have a deed restriction for future sales.... Who can really afford that? A trust fund baby who lives in SS and works part of the "Season"???

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 6 months ago

wannabe, The owner would have to qualify for the mortgage, so I doubt illegals could qualify, or even would apply.

"Who can really afford that?" I expect you are noting that deed restricted units will not appreciate as much as free market units. But if free market is out of your reach, deed restricted ownership still offers building your own equity, rather than paying rent to someone else. It is a step that both singles and young families need.

And a way to have roots in this community, like coaching skiers, serving as a mentor, volunteering ...etc., rather than spending 5-6 hours a week driving to and from a home in Oak Creek, Hayden.

Sbvor, your argument about affordable housing policy elevating prices beyond the worker's reach became invalid years before the policy arrived. Yeah, I'm really trying to inflate my property value here. Its hard to keep pretending that I like young working families moving into ownership in my town when I really like those empty vacation homes usually built.

Enough, sarcasm is the weakest way of talking. Hey, read the rest of that survey you keep quoting: Affordable housing as I recall was ranked the 3rd highest need of our community. In 2003?

-Steve Lewis

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 6 months ago

Steve thank you. You have a nice way with words. Not only do families need to find affordable housing but new home owners as well. A three hundred thousand dollar residence is out of reach for most first time buyers. ( Whether it is deed restricted or not.) Short term housing is also needed for the few months of the season when workers migrate to the area. Isn't that the real appeal of housing like the Iron Horse? If not maybe the old fashioned boarding houses would be a way to rent rooms at an affordable rate.

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andymanout 6 years, 6 months ago

As a married man interested in relocating to Steamboat I find the housing shortage discouraging.

I fix and install TV's and Audio/Video equipment. I would have to be near the population center in order to maintain a viable business.

What I see are houses in Oak Creek at the closest that are affordable for my wife and I.

If every house in an unincorporated area must reside on 35 acres won't there be little or no affordable development built close enough to matter.

I am not about to move my family into a boarding house or an overpriced cardboard box apartment. What I understand from this article is that there is a definite need for housing.

Isn't it true that development and addition of new single family homes is the only way to meet this demand?

If I have the wrong take on this someone inform me. Otherwise I will continue my search for a place to call home.

Andyman Out.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 6 months ago

"Sbvor", I can't believe I actually enjoyed reading your comment. But watching the CAPS and exclamations!! increase toward the end was somehow very satisfying. Even if it was mostly a 4 month old cut and paste.

But seriously. Given your choice between: 1) Inclusionary Zoning created the real inflation in local real estate prices, and 2) wealthy second home buyers created the inflation. I'll choose 2). And be right, by a factor of 20 to 1.

As you said, for the rich people our prices are a bargain. But asking higher prices attracts them to a purchase? That's twisted. I do admit that housing our workers adds to the community fabric, and that makes us more attractive/valuable to future buyers.

But no, Sbvor, it does not "feel good to stick it to the developer". In 2006 I attended many meetings with developers working on housing. They are awesome people and among our best citizens. They agreed with the housing need, but disagreed with some parts of our IZ housing ordinance. I did not enjoy those disagreements in the least. I think they got about half of what they sought to change.

-Steve Lewis

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 6 months ago

wannabe, I think you're right - the Iron Horse, or something like it, may be the best solution for seasonal workers.

And different income levels also need different modes of housing. Most discussions use Annual Median Income (AMI) as a baseline. While we need to try to help all income levels, it seems that folks making less than 80% AMI are best accomodated by rental housing. Folks making 80% to 120% of AMI are possibly able to qualify for the deed restricted ownership product now appearing in town.

-Steve Lewis

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JustAsking 6 years, 6 months ago

Has anybody else noticed the lack of a "box score" of the results of the local "affordable housing" bureaucracies? Looks from here that a LOT of money is being collected and spent on salaries and studies but what are the results? How many units? WHO is living in them? Is this government mandated give-a-way effort really doing anything for the majority of the group that it purports to help? LET'S SEE SOME NUMBERS!

I'm betting the numbers will show that Sbvor is correct. This expensive bureaucratic effort is destined to do little or nothing for the vast majority of the class that they claim to want to "help."

Note to "DO GOODERS": I would rather live in a condo, townhouse, duplex or single family home with 4 or more UNRELATED friends than the Iron Horse, but you have made that ILLEGAL.

I would rather rent an apartment in a complex but you have made it IMPOSSIBLE for a developer to build anything like this that could be profitable for him.

How about those 96 units at Wild Horse some of you are bragging about? How many square feet? Bedrooms/baths ? Cost? Who are the "chosen" ? How much MORE expensive will the other units have to be because the developer has to add COST to the rest of the units available to the rest of us who don't get in on the "entitlement"? (Note: to Idiots. Business is entitled to profit for taking risk and return on investment. ) There will have to be profit on the 96 transferred to the rest of the units? SURPRISE! This drives up prices for everybody else.

News Flash for those of you who think you are just going to stick it to " those rich out of town owners":

YOU ARE JUST STICKING IT TO YOURSELVES by policies that CONTINUALLY drive up prices. Guess what else. Those ROOOTO's can afford it and you can't. SO WHO WINS?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

sbvor (anonymous) January 2, 2008 at 11:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Okay, I can live with deleting the purely ad hominem even when it's objectively accurate.

Maybe it will help keep people focused on the issues."

You created your own policy, thank you. To you, "Liberal, Socialist, etc.," are ad hominem the way you use them. Then again, your above statement: "Tell me what you want censored." shows that you truly believe you should be censored. Freudian slip, huh?

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 6 months ago

I would like a explaination as to why some of sbvor is removed, you can keep it simple, there my be a good reason, (profanity, personal attacks), but otherwise I for one am interested in reading him/her, this is all part of what I admire about the SP&T, it takes a lot of courage to offer up this free a forum, just a hint and we won't nag, if sbvor needs to clean it up he/she is a quality contributor and I hope will respond. thank you all......

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

Boy, people really get to whining if their posts get removed.

I guess it sucks when someone else can say the same about the person who said,

Posted on January 13 at 10:51 a.m. On Iron Horse decision planned

"Speaking of spoiled local whiners...

Cry me a river!"

Gee; who might have said that?

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justathought 6 years, 6 months ago

Just out of curiosity I'd like to see why some comments are removed also. I have seen some comments removed and could not figure out what they had said to cause this action. SP&T, could you at least say (This comment was removed by the site staff for) and give us a short reason such as profanity, libel, we didn't like it, etc., might keep others from repeating the offense.

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