The Yampa Valley Housing Authority meets Jan. 12 to consider adopting the findings of the citizens housing steering committee and begin forming a funding committee of its own to  access outside funding sources to build the authority's next projects.

file photo

file photo

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority meets Jan. 12 to consider adopting the findings of the citizens housing steering committee and begin forming a funding committee of its own to access outside funding sources to build the authority's next projects.

Yampa Valley Housing Authority seeks to capitalize on momentum

Open door for housing

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— The Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s first meeting of the new year, set for Jan. 12, will be a big one, both in terms of the length of the agenda and its importance.

High on the list of topics the housing authority will tackle is adoption of the recommendations of the citizens housing steering committee that were presented to the Steamboat Springs City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners Dec. 13. The report called for the creation of 700 new housing units within four years to close the gap between existing supply and demand.

Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley cautioned Jan. 9 against expecting his group to break ground on another housing project in 2017, but instead said to watch for significant progress in laying the groundwork for future projects.

“We’re going to make a lot of progress this coming year,” Peasley said. “We want to be in a position where people are watching and the community is interested, because we have so much going on.”

County cites its efforts to promote housing

The Routt County Board of Commissioners learned Jan. 9 it had been invited to meet March 7 with Steamboat Springs City Council to discuss housing issues.

In the meantime, Commissioner Cari Hermacinski sent an e-mail to Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley this week outlining 13 measures the county has undertaken to support development of housing, not the least of which is helping to fund the authority since its inception.

A sampling of other initiatives includes liberalizing regulations on accessory dwelling units in an effort to encourage creation of more units and keeping more housing units in the long-term rental pool by prohibiting short-term vacation rentals in the unincorporated county.

Housing Authority Board Chairman Roger Ashton said with the higher visibility that comes as a result of the steering committee’s call to action, he expects his group will be subject to greater scrutiny in 2017 than in the past.

“A lot of it’s going to be up to us now,” Ashton said. “We’ll be reporting back to the city and county and making sure we’re looking forward.”

Adoption of the report will imply the housing authority is prepared to take the lead in delivering on its promise. But setting the course to actually deliver 700 new housing units for four different economic categories of households will depend upon the authority’s ability to leverage more funding.

If you go

What: Yampa Valley Housing Authority sets agenda for staying in the public’s view and taking concrete steps to funding more community housing projects.

When: noon, Jan. 12

Where: Board of Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

More information: At the top of the agenda is a homeowner’s detailed, and perhaps time-consuming, request for a release from the affordable housing deed restriction on a specific condominium at Howelsen Place.

Also on Thursday’s agenda is the goal of assembling an effective finance committee that can tap into available funding options, such as the federal tax credits used to build The Reserves 48-unit, income-restricted apartment complex, which is nearing completion on the city’s west side.

Peasley said Monday the discussion about the funding committee will likely pertain to its makeup — “What it will look like and who should be on it.” And, the discussion about funding options will be educational. The goal is for the members of the authority board to “understand what’s in our tool chest when trying to help provide more housing supply.” Peasley said.

Ashton said he believes it’s critical for the authority to keep housing issues in the forefront of peoples’ minds and important to look beyond the Steamboat Springs city limits in efforts to close the housing gap.

“The housing authority needs to be mindful that we’re not the city of Steamboat Springs Housing Authority,” Ashton said. “The solution may not just reside in Steamboat. I can’t believe how many buildable lots there are in Hayden, and there are buildable lots in Stagecoach. A part of the solution is the rest of the county.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 week, 2 days ago

So what is YVHA suggesting it can do so that houses get built upon the many low cost buildable lots in the region? At the rate of subsidy needed to build The Reserves then local taxpayers just need to come up with $150+ million over the next four years.

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Ken Mauldin 1 week, 2 days ago

Providing housing assistance to the indigent and disabled is a worthy cause that our community should embrace and support without reservation.

However, I am completely against providing housing assistance to healthy, otherwise employable people that can provide for themselves.

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Debbie Milstead 1 week, 2 days ago

Hillside Village is so run-down. YVHA should be in the "public's view" for allowing this to happen.

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Scott Wedel 1 week, 2 days ago

Ken,

Just to play devil's advocate, so no housing assistance to the working poor single parent?

As for an affordable housing agency, there is an operational model that doesn't require large taxpayer subsidies. They can use ultra low interest loans designed for housing agencies to purchase rental properties. Those loans allowing paying for maintenance and management, but prevent generating cash flow to use elsewhere. So the loan terms basically guarantee that rents will rise slower than inflation and allow the housing authority to build a stockpile of affordable units.

The housing authority can seek to buy units from owners that would be willing to cash out in order to build more rental units at market rates. A competent housing authority has to recognize it is a small player in the overall real estate market and they are not going to bring down the overall costs of housing.

The smart operational model for a housing authority is to then hold the properties until the loan is paid off at which time they can raise rents to be whatever amount less than market and to generate cash flow to be used to generate down payments to purchase more properties.

Unfortunately, there is no suggestion that YVHA has the slightest bit of operational competence. They had Hillside apartments mostly paid off and were getting close to the point where it could generate significant cash flow to use elsewhere. Instead, the socialist ideologues of YVHA then got one of those ultra low interest government housing authority loans. So now rents at Hillside Village are limited by the loan terms to be what are now less than half of market rents. Without that loan, they could have been been 25% below market rent and still generate $250,000 annually to use elsewhere.

Why should taxpayers be asked to fund YVHA when they signed a loan eliminating a $250,000 annual funding source?

What the ideologue socialists fail, or refuse, to understand is that too much of a subsidy becomes a trap. The Hillside Village apts are also income restricted. Since rent is less than half of market then a tenant needs a massive increase in income in order to come out ahead when the raise means they no longer qualify for Hillside. Thus, tenants are in the position of seeking to minimize or prevent their income from rising as would be expected in a normal career path.

Before going to the taxpayer for funding, YVHA should be appealing to HUD or whatever to find a way to get out of this disastrous loan even if penalties are large so that reduced rent isn't so far from market rent and they can use the excess cash flow instead of taxpayer money.

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Debbie Milstead 1 week, 2 days ago

Ken-

A lot of healthy employable people don't want to provide for themselves. Why should they if can get the government to support them?

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Eileen Berry 1 week, 1 day ago

It really helps if some of these folks have a personal relationship with the management of the low-income housing project. They can not only bump the wait-list, they can get rental assistance and all manner of special privileges. Work a little or not at all. Work under the table. It's all good.

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Ken Mauldin 1 week, 2 days ago

Hi Scott and Debbie - Adults make choices and shouldn't expect others to indemnify them from the consequences of those choices. The community is not responsible to provide housing assistance to single parents, just because they're single. There are plenty of jobs and more affordable housing in other areas.

Communities have no obligation whatsoever to bail adults out of their poor decisions and it's a terrible precedent to allow otherwise healthy and employable people to be supported by the taxpayers.

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Debbie Milstead 1 week, 2 days ago

Hi Ken-

I agree with you 100% I hope our new president will put us "back on track".l

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Scott Wedel 1 week, 2 days ago

So a decision to divorce an abuse spouse should be expected to have severe consequence including possibly becoming homeless?

I think the big problem with the current system is not the providing of assistance, but the resulting hurdles once on assistance to then doing better so that less or no assistance is needed. For instance, once on assistance then earning money quickly reduces assistance. If in Hillside Village, then a person would see their housing costs increase by $7,000+ a year when earning more than the income restrictions. So that person needs a miraculous 30+% increase in pay to be better off moving to free market housing.

Assistance needs to be able to more easily be a sliding scale so that it is easy so that more money earned modestly reduces assistance so there is always an incentive to earn more and ideally no longer need assistance. For instance, people on disability should be actively seeking a job they could do at least part time since that should be better than not working.

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Ken Mauldin 1 week, 2 days ago

Hi Scott - Correct. The community has no responsibility related to the person an adult chooses to marry or the consequences of that choice. While there is a clear community responsibility to care for crime victims, this does not extend to long-term housing assistance for those that chose poorly regarding whom to marry.

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Fred Duckels 1 week, 2 days ago

For years now the private sector has avoided multifamily housing due to the construction defects law. There have been many attempts to change the inequity but the Dems at the statehouse are holding tight. Maybe they prefer the government projects over letting the market work and using the private sector. DMB needs to explain this situation.

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Lock McShane 5 days, 7 hours ago

We have to look at the different goals of the private and public sectors when it comes to housing. The private sector just wants to make money. The public sector wants to provide housing. They both have their purpose and should be able to co-exist.

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Debbie Milstead 4 days, 15 hours ago

Lock-

The public sector wants to secure their jobs. The private sector takes care of thier investiments because the tax payers will not bail them out if they fail !

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Scott Wedel 4 days, 11 hours ago

It is costing about $250K per units at this project. If we need 700 units then that is about $175M in spending. If we are to embark upon a program that comes close to that need then it needs a lot of money such as an additional 10% in sales tax and hope that doesn't reduce local spending and bring in less than expected tax revenues.

The free market can raise a lot of money if there is a decent profit. So if there really are 700 households able to pay the cost of new housing then they can build it themselves or pay developers that have built houses.

If there are 700 households that need housing and cannot afford free market housing then the next question should be why not? If they are in jobs that don't pay enough then they need pay raises to continue working here. There is no guaranteed right for businesses to pay less than a living wage and have government provide low cost housing for their employees.

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