After ‘huge year’ strategic planning more important than ever for housing authority
The Yampa Valley Housing Authority will hold a special meeting later this month to guide strategic planning about how to build on a year in which it purchased $30 million of new land.
“It seems like every year we repeat the same thing, which is ‘this is going to be a huge year,’” said Jason Peasley, executive director of the housing authority. “The stakes are getting higher and higher and it puts more emphasis on our need to have a really good strategic plan.”
In addition to the mammoth Brown Ranch project to the west of Steamboat, Peasley said they are also reviewing development proposals for the former Steamboat Crossing property, now being referred to as the Mid Valley project. A decision on a development partner could come as soon as next month.
Peasley and housing authority board President Cole Hewitt both said they feel the organization has transformed in recent months and how it is organized may need to change as well.
Earlier this week, the nominating board — made up of the three county commissioners and three Steamboat Springs City Council members — picked five people to serve on the board, expanding the total number of members to 14.
Rob Roetzel, the only nominee to the board who has not previously served, said in his interview that he wanted to join because he has “lost entire groups of friends to this housing crisis.”
Hewitt brought up other topics they should consider as well. Should the authority split into a two organizations, one focused on property management and another on development? Should they revisit the local mill levy? How will the relationship between the board and the Brown Ranch steering committee develop?
Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan and Steamboat Springs City Council member Heather Sloop both suggested transportation needs to be part of the housing conversation as well.
“Realistically, any strategic planning needs to have long range transportation needs both locally and regionally,” Sloop said. “This is something that has to be on the forefront of every conversation regarding housing.”
Corrigan said there are opportunities in some of the outlying parts of the county they should keep in mind long term as well, even if places like Oak Creek and Hayden are not within the boundaries of the housing authority right now.
Board member Catherine Carson suggested they should do more to educate the community about issues like tenant rights, whether people live in a housing authority building or not. Roetzel and other board members agreed, saying it is low cost, high impact and fulfills part of the authority’s mission.
Carson added that the board should also start considering expanding its focus to include senior housing, as many who have worked in the Yampa Valley for decades approach retirement.
“Workforce and local housing is a priority and needs to continue to be, but we are an aging population,” Carson said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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