Steamboat Springs Yampa Valley Housing Authority board members expressed support Thursday for a major development that could provide a permanent funding source for the cash-strapped affordable housing provider.
The board stopped short of officially endorsing Steamboat 700 and its affordable housing plan, but praise was given - and no substantial objections were raised - after a presentation by Steamboat 700 Project Manager Danny Mulcahy.
"I've not heard anything but general support today," Board President Mary Alice Page-Allen said.
Steamboat 700 is a 508-acre proposed development west of Steamboat Springs that hopes to be annexed into city limits. A component of the development's community housing plan is a 1 percent tax on real estate transactions within the master-planned community, and Mulcahy said a minimum of 50 percent of the proceeds would be devoted to YVHA until Steamboat 700 is 50 percent built out. Thereafter, the group of stakeholders that ultimately will oversee what is being called the "community enhancement fund" would determine the Housing Authority's share of the money. In addition to housing affordability, the community enhancement fund could be used for other community needs, such as child care and public art, Mulcahy said.
The arrangement could help solve a big problem for YVHA, which currently relies on annual contributions from the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County that are not guaranteed. Most board members think that a ballot measure to fund the Housing Authority would fail miserably.
"We need a funding mechanism to accomplish our mission," board member Bob Kauffmann said.
As Steamboat 700 still is being reviewed by the city and far from breaking ground - and because the transfer tax won't apply to initial land sales - some board members noted that Mulcahy's plan does little to address YVHA's immediate problems.
"We're in a real quandary right now," board member John Spezia said. "How do we bridge that gap?"
Steamboat 700's community housing plan also proposes that 20 percent of its homes be permanently deed-restricted and available to households earning 70 percent to 120 percent of the area median income.
Reacting to the results of a housing market demand analysis conducted last year, Mulcahy said 50 percent of these homes would be rental apartments. YVHA board member Kristi Brown commended Mulcahy for responding to the study, which Steamboat 700 also helped pay for.
"Rental housing isn't always a walk in the park," Brown said.
An additional 5 percent of homes in Steamboat 700 would be for-sale and targeted at households earning 120 percent to 160 percent AMI; they would carry deed restrictions for only 10 years.
YVHA board members inquired about the possibility of Steamboat 700 donating land to the Housing Authority, which it could use to develop projects aimed at AMIs below Mulcahy's targets. Mulcahy responded coolly to that idea, however, and suggested the transfer funds could be used to purchase land.
Thursday's board meeting was the Housing Authority's first since it sent the entirety of its staff packing at the end of 2008. The Housing Authority has restructured itself for 2009 with one yet-to-be-hired staff member in the budget. Twenty-nine people have applied for the position of asset/program manager, including Page-Allen.
The identities of the other applicants are not known. An interview committee is expected to whittle the applicants down to a short list in a meeting today, but no names will be made public until the Housing Authority settles on finalists.