Yampa Valley Housing Authority looks to ease affordable housing rules | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Housing Authority looks to ease affordable housing rules

— As they look ahead to approving a 2012 budget and continue to search for new revenue streams, members of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority board on Thursday also studied a tentative plan to free community housing funds currently tied up in unsold condominiums dedicated to affordable housing buyers.

Board chairman Rich Lowe said the agency is consulting with the city's Planning Department and the developers of Howelsen Place on a menu of options that would ease constraints that make the units dedicated as affordable housing difficult to sell.

If relaxing those constraints resulted in sales, the city could realize payments amounting to almost $46,000 from each condo, which in turn could be routed to the authority.

The constraints have to do with affordable pricing and requirements that units be sold to local employees, according to correspondence between authority Manager Mary Alice Page Allen and Mark Scully, of Green Courte Partners.

As it stands now, Lowe said, the constraints are preventing the four, one-bedroom condos from selling, and effectively are holding the community housing funds hostage.

"If they're sitting there and not selling, there's no money benefiting the community because the condos are hamstrung (by the restrictions)," Lowe said.

The authority got a preliminary look this week at Page Allen's proposed 2012 budget of $1.125 million. With projected revenues of $1.08 million, the budget anticipates a shortfall of $43,868. However, Page Allen said the plan is to erase that amount by tapping into a 2011 fund balance of almost $250,000 that would be carried into the new year.

In a written presentation, Page Allen said assuming the city and county continue current levels of funding support for the authority, it should be able to carry on for the next two years.

"Operational revenues appear sufficient through 2012, and if current revenue streams and costs remain consistent, there will be sufficient funding to cover operations through 20113," she wrote in a budget summary.

Unanticipated events, such as a reduction in government support or if the lending bank on the undeveloped Elk River Village project makes a demand for more cash to be applied to the principal loan amount, could cause the authority board to rethink its future, she said.

The city committed $80,000 to the authority in 2011, and the county supplied $88,000. Similar agreements are in place for 2012. The other primary sources of revenue are $32,000 in management fees collected from the operation of Fish Creek Mobile Home Park and $29,000 in fees from Hillside Village Apartments.

Page Allen said because of the positive revenue the authority generates from the Fish Creek and Hillside Village assets, it sought to purchase the Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park in 2011 and had a verbal agreement to do so.

However, the overhanging debt on the Elk River Village parcel made it impossible to obtain a bank loan. The 2012 budget worksheet reflects that the authority plans to transfer $126,000 from its general fund in 2012 to cover costs at Elk River Village.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com