Housing Authority celebrates end of tough year in changing market
December 13, 2009
Steamboat Springs — Nancy Stahoviak gave a simple reason for the Yampa Valley Housing Authority's end-of-the-year luncheon last week.
"We decided it was time to celebrate our existence," said Stahoviak, a Housing Authority board member and Routt County commissioner.
That's no exaggeration. It's been a turbulent 2009 for the Housing Authority, which faced significant financial and staffing challenges in the past 12 months amid a declining real estate market that halted development plans for the city-approved Elk River Village project and has changed the Housing Authority's approach to providing affordable housing and related services in Northwest Colorado. And despite optimism expressed last week, the Housing Authority's budget shows more hurdles lie ahead.
The Housing Authority began 2009 with staffing reduced to one administrative position, taken on by asset/program manager Mary Alice Page-Allen.
"It's been a long, hard row to hoe here," Page-Allen said. "But we've turned a corner this last year."
The Housing Authority's 2010 budget was approved at last week's luncheon by the Housing Authority board. The budget includes $1,970,837 in total expenses and projected revenues of $1,764,059. Much of those revenues stem from fees from the Housing Authority's two rental properties, the 55-unit Hillside Village and the 68-unit Fish Creek Mobile Home Park. Many of the expenses are related to carrying costs for the Elk River Village site, which the Housing Authority placed on the market this year; costs with the railroad crossing at Fish Creek Mobile Home Park; and maintenance, operation and capital improvement costs at the two rental properties.
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The city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County each provide $80,000 annually to the Housing Authority and have not cut that funding despite heavily trimmed budgets.
Although Page-Allen noted in the budget document that "operational revenues appear sufficient through 2010," she warned that "a shortfall is indicated for 2011 and will serve as the basis for the authority to once again re-evaluate its ongoing operations and future as an organization."
The document speculates that seeking a voter-approved mill levy, more substantial funding from the city and county and increased partnerships with the development community are all options to improve Housing Authority finances.
"We need to find a long-term source of funding," board member Catherine Carson said simply.
Without that source in place, 2010 looks to be a year of maintaining service levels and making incremental gains for the Housing Authority. Page-Allen said her goals for next year include working toward infrastructure improvements at Fish Creek Mobile Home Park, which she said is 40 to 50 years old in some areas; increasing homebuyer education programs; and utilizing $30,000 available for down payment assistance.
"We aren't going to lose anything next year," Page-Allen said. "There's a lot of what I consider wrinkles to be ironed out at this point."
Housing Authority board President Ed MacArthur and numerous other board members praised Page-Allen's work this year.
"This young lady is doing a fantastic job," MacArthur said.
Page-Allen, MacArthur and Stahoviak also took the opportunity at Thursday's luncheon to thank outgoing Housing Authority board members.
Kathi Meyer resigned in October as the board's secretary and treasurer. Stahoviak said Meyer was "crucial in the development" of affordable housing units at West End Village and the Fox Creek townhomes on Hilltop Parkway. Stahoviak also cited the work on Fox Creek by Loui Antonucci, a former Steamboat Springs City Council president and longtime affordable housing advocate.
Tony Seaver, vice president of the Housing Authority board, also is stepping down and received thanks for his service, as did former City Councilman Steve Ivancie and Nancy Engelken, the city's community housing coordinator.
Engelken is leaving that position at the end of the year. She will be the new executive director for Housing Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing services statewide. Engelken said her new position will not require her to move from Steamboat Springs. Her husband, Jim Engelken, is a recently elected City Council member.
Finally, MacArthur also commended former City Councilman Bud Romberg, a longtime member of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation — the Housing Authority's precursor — for his service and advocacy.
The broad spectrum of the community present Thursday indicated a solid base of support for the Housing Authority's mission, which Meyer optimistically said will continue to thrive in the valley despite the financial challenges.
"I think this year was a turning point," Meyer said. "Now we can concentrate on our core business."