George M. Eck III: West Steamboat Neighborhoods will create 158 more affordable homes for our community
As a fellow member of the Planning Commission, I feel the need to respond to Commissioner Rich Levy’s June 18 letter to the editor, his comments regarding target pricing, and on how this annexation fulfills the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan objective of providing affordable and attainable housing.
Plans are not regulations, but rather a public process to identify goals, strategies to fulfill that goal and recommend changes to adopted regulations. The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan was last updated in 2006, after it was determined that “one of the primary objectives of the plan, the creation of significant amounts of affordable housing, was not achieved.” That is still the case today.
Irrespective of the specific policies or actions proposed by the plan, the affordability goal was and is to “provide a minimum of 33% of the aggregate number of housing units to working people of Steamboat Springs who qualify for Community Housing[.]” The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan further notes that “affordable housing needs cover a broad spectrum of home types, sizes, and prices,” and that one way to achieve the goal is “to allow some of the costs of the affordable units to be subsidized by market-rate units.”
While the city has not had any active community housing standards in many years, when active it dealt with creating homes for families with incomes up to 120% of AMI. Likewise, the code defines “affordable housing” as a home which a family making no more than 120% of AMI would pay no more than 30% of their income on.
Lo and behold, 33% of the homes in West Steamboat Neighborhoods will be priced to be affordable for families making 120% or less of AMI. That is a fact; don’t let the misdirection by the opposition fool you on that.
Yes, the purchase price in five years may be higher than the current listed target prices — if AMI goes up. If AMI goes up, that would mean residents would be making more money. And since affordability is measured as a percentage of income, the homes would still be affordable despite a higher price.
West Steamboat Neighborhoods meets the preferred direction and policies of this community. While West Steamboat Neighborhoods may not be a wholly affordable housing project, that was never the goal or requirement of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. But, it will create 158 more affordable homes than we would not otherwise have, and sorely need.
George M. Eck III
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