Yampa Valley Housing Authority board in line for new members | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Housing Authority board in line for new members

— There likely are to be several new members of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority late this winter as the board that fosters and manages affordable housing projects continues to pursue a tentative plan to develop an affordable apartment complex on land it owns on Elk River Road in the city limits.

Helena Taylor, administrator to the Routt County Board of Commissioners, told the board that there have been four applicants for six positions up for renewal on the YVHA board of directors.

Among them is current board member John Spezia, who has expressed an interest in serving another term, Taylor said. However, current board Vice President Rich Lowe, Patrick Welsh and Johnny Sawyer are not seeking new terms. And current member Kristi Brown intends to step down but is willing to serve until a replacement is selected.

The Housing Authority is co-sponsored by the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County. The board selected Kansas-based Overland Property Group in early January as its development partner for 48 affordable, rent-restricted apartments. The fate of the project will depend heavily upon the board's ability to land funding from the Colorado Housing Finance Authority in the form of federal income tax credits, which could be sold to help YVHA bring equity to the partnership.

Although the commissioners have yet to schedule a vote on the new YVHA board members, they indicated to Taylor this week that given the fact that there are fewer applicants than openings, they would consider appointing them to the commission without conducting formal interviews. Taylor added that the Steamboat Springs City Council has not yet considered the applicants either, but it anticipates city staff will ask as soon as Feb. 3 if the council members, too, would consider waiving the interview process.

The commissioners' willingness to expedite the appointment of new board members could be attributable in part to the resumes of the three new applicants.

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Jean-Claude “John” St. Pierre is based in Steamboat as the senior project manager for ReConstruction Experts, of Arvada. He experienced Summit County's efforts to create affordable housing in another era as a member of the Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council as well as the Summit County Planning and Zoning Commission.

He noted that when Keystone Ski Area was developed, it was required to provide employee housing, and Copper Mountain bought the old Club Med development there to provide housing of workers.

He also called Summit County a classic example of sprawl but said he has a sense that Steamboat needs to turn its gaze to areas of Routt County just outside its city limits to find sites for future affordable housing.

"Affordable housing is a very difficult subject. There's no absolute answer," he said. "This isn't a Steamboat problem, it's countywide."

Another applicant, Dillon Fulcher, is an attorney with Feldmann Nagel in Steamboat.

"I can approach real estate issues from the perspective of an attorney," he wrote in his application. "I will be able to recognize potential issues before an attorney is involved. I have experience in real estate issues including landlord tenant problems."

A third applicant, Roger M. Ashton, retired here after a career in higher education that includes a decade-long tenure as communications manager for the University of California-Davis, where he oversaw informational technology from 1999 to 2009.

Ashton's resume also includes board membership on several large Habitat for Humanity organizations in California. He also has served as a member of a build team at the Fuller Center for Housing, creating sustainable affordable housing in rural Louisiana. He has a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Colorado Denver and an MBA from the same institution.

Like St. Pierre, Ashton, who grew up in Denver and has been visiting Steamboat since the 1960s, wonders if the future of affordable housing for the Steamboat market might be outside the city.

"You don't have to have affordable housing in the center of a resort community," he said. "Maybe affordable housing has to be in an outlying area where there's public transit. … What I see in Steamboat is an incredibly hard place for people to live in — teachers and people in the service industry — it's becoming extremely hard to find affordable housing."

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