Affordable housing roundtable finding its way

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— A broad group of some of Steamboat Springs' most influential developers, businesspeople, municipal staff, elected officials and others has assembled to take a fresh look at affordable housing.

"We're trying to look at the problem from a much broader perspective than it has been looked at previously," said Bud Romberg, founder and chairman of the group that has come to be known as the "affordable housing roundtable."

Romberg is a former board member of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and a current board member of Habitat for Humanity. Romberg called together a group to deal with the question of housing, and the response was tremendous. Meetings have included major employers such as Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., major developers such as Steamboat 700 principle and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy, and officials from governmental entities across Routt County.

"Right now, we're just a group of people looking to define a problem," Mulcahy said. "It's the best group that I've come across to discuss affordable housing so far."

Meeting attendance has been as high as 30 people. Romberg believes the response is a sign that the issue of affordable living in the Yampa Valley has reached a new head.

"This whole question of affordability has come to the forefront," Romberg said. "It had to finally get to a point where it was affecting enough people that it became a community issue."

Low profile

Since it started meeting three months ago, the affordable housing roundtable has operated discreetly. While public officials such as Steamboat Springs City Councilman Scott Myller and Yampa Town Board Trustee Karen Tussey have attended meetings, Romberg said the group "very purposefully" kept their numbers low. Therefore, the group is not subject to state laws that would require its meetings to be public and advertised.

Romberg said the intention is not to be secretive or to subvert the work of any other body. He said the group simply hoped to better define itself before going public.

"I don't think it's a matter of flying under the radar," Romberg said. "It's a matter of figuring out who we are and what we want to do."

For now, Romberg said the group is focusing on better understanding the issue of affordable housing and affordability in general. What the group ultimately will do has yet to be decided. Romberg said it might be a difficult question to answer given the complexity of the issue.

"Part of the problem has been that affordable housing is only part of the overall affordability question," Romberg said. "At this point, we're still trying to find our way."

Donna Howell, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, has attended meetings of the affordable housing roundtable. She said the group is not duplicating the work of the Housing Authority because it is not doing any data gathering or building any affordable housing. Nancy Engelken, the city of Steamboat Springs' community housing coordinator, said the group has functioned "very much as a networking organization."

Engelken and Myller said there is great value in the roundtable being a grassroots initiative of the public, rather than a typical government committee, board or commission.

"If it came from the people instead of the government, maybe it would sell better," Myller said of potential solutions the roundtable might develop. "We definitely take good plans and good ideas."

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Gadfly 6 years, 4 months ago

In this newspaper today, there are two ads for apartments in Steamboat, and three ads looking for apartments in Steamboat. Some boatload!

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steamboatsprings 6 years, 4 months ago

I am glad to see a broad based group of people taking the time to have some intelligent discourse on the subject of affordable housing. We need to spend more time looking for a solution that fits Steamboat than blindly adopting one that Aspen and Vail have used. I thought that we didn't want to become like them so why have so many policies over the last couple of years been copied from them?

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lessworkmoreskiing 6 years, 4 months ago

Does affordable housing really exist here? HA! Let's talk to the outrageously wealthy people and put it together. I am sure they will understand with compassion. I heard the ski resort was going to offer "affordable" season passes next year too. Can't wait!

I have to go beat a dead horse... see ya

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ffv 6 years, 4 months ago

"lessworkmoreskiing" - your alias says it all. Maybe if you worked more and skied less you wouldn't need cheaper lift tickets and affordable housing. That said, I am for affordable housing for those who deserve it and continue to work at making SB a great place to live.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 4 months ago

If you ever called some of the ads for apartments you would know that they really are not available. There are waiting lists as well as income level requirements. Those ads may be for units that won't be available until June or July. So for the really lucky there may be afordable housing. ( one in a million) But it is a crap shoot.

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lessworkmoreskiing 6 years, 4 months ago

ffv - I am TRYING to do less work and more skiing. My rent is too high though.

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caddisgirl 6 years, 4 months ago

There is no economic model that will induce the private sector to build rental housing given market conditions. If you don't agree, go find one.

Let's get some leadership on this issue. Make a decision and get something done. Instead, there are another 30 people involved with housing along with the City Council, the city staff and the Housing Authority. Beautiful!

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424now 6 years, 4 months ago

We need to get CC to offer a developer some kind of tax break or something and get them to develop 70 acres with 3 BR 2 BA shotgun houses built on 1/6 or 1/4 acre. Thats 280 to 420 units hitting the market at the same time.

Sounds like a 400,00 dolar house to me!

The developer makes his buck and the houses get built. Do this and I can finally put a roof I own over my family's heads. Until then I'll keep on paying insane rental prices. (deleated expleative)

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 4 months ago

424now, Tax breaks to developers that are going to be making a "Haul" on the proposed developments, is something most cities and counties snub their noses at when the economics of an area are robust! If we were recessed and begging for industry, I don't believe that would be the case. When tax breaks are given in a prosperous area, I believe it lures the "slime ball developers" along with the others. We have had enough of them here! I truly believe that affordable housing will have to be the burden of the surrounding communities. I also feel that the boundary for affordability in this region is widening greatly! Like the sick example I shared in another blog, it seems like the only way to achieve affordable housing is to do imminent domain of land, deed restrict with stipulations of resale, and develop common modular or row housing. I would not want to be on the receiving end of any such actions. It's hostel and hard to believe our government can do that! That's sad. I am fortunate with my ownership here in Steamboat. Even at my current wages and current housing prices, I could not afford to purchase my home from me! In closing, I can say that it will take some great creativity to achieve this task. I don't envy these folks in their endeavors! Greed will always be triumphant over generosity in real estate. Good luck 424now

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jack legrice 6 years, 4 months ago

424 give me a break. You think we should give developers a break so you can put a roof over your family's heads. No one gave me a break. What makes you think you are so special. Sick of all you people who think they have the right to live here at someone else's expense!!!! There are plenty of places -Hayden, Oak Creek, Craig. All that high rent you complain about could be used to buy something in those towns. The CC Has no business getting involved in this. Grow up and take responsibility for your self. Stop asking for a free ride. I have been able to make it here since 1972.No reason you can't.

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armchairqb 6 years, 4 months ago

Lets face it, you can tell us all until you are BLUE IN THE FACE, but their AIN't NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN STEAMBOAT, not now not ever....End of Story!!!!!!!

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424now 6 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Warlock

Oneski, I'll do just fine.

QB, Guess I'll have to pick another topic since you have ended the dicusion and debate.

Good night all.

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