Hashing out housing | SteamboatToday.com

Hashing out housing

City, county, Yampa Valley Housing Authority meet tonight

Brandon Gee


5 p.m. Joint meeting with Routt County Board of Commissioners and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority

7 p.m. Public comment; U.S. 40 access control plan; concurrency management; public works capital improvement program

— Donna Howell wants one thing from today’s joint meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council, the Routt County Board of Commissioners and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority: clarification.

Howell, executive director of the Housing Authority, said defining the roles and responsibilities between her agency and the city when it comes to providing affordable housing is the primary goal of the meeting. Concerns have been raised that the two bodies have set themselves up to duplicate efforts – or even compete.

The Housing Authority was formed by an intergovernmental agreement between the city and county in 2003 to provide housing for families of low or moderate incomes in Routt County. In the past year, the city has passed affordable housing legislation, established an affordable housing fund and hired Community Housing Coordinator Nancy Engelken. The Housing Authority also has added a position for a housing qualifications specialist.

“There’s a real opportunity for duplication here, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, a member of the Housing Authority’s board of directors.

Howell said she wants to know whether the city intends to be “in the housing business,” but Engelken said that phrase has created confusion.

“There has been a lack of understanding about what it means to be in the affordable housing business,” Engelken said. “Our intent is not to be in that business of creating and operating affordable housing ourselves.”

However, Engelken said the city will be in the housing business when it comes to other efforts, such as community education and the administration of affordable housing resources. One such resource is the money generated from the city’s affordable housing legislation passed last year.

Whether the Housing Authority will be allocated any of those funds – and if so, how it will access them – is another topic likely for discussion tonight. Engelken said the city’s community plan specifically says the city should work with not only the Housing Authority, but also private developers. She said when it comes to putting housing funds to use, the city likely will send out requests for proposals that the Housing Authority could respond to.

“We want to look at what the best proposals are for community housing,” Engelken said. “We think the (request for proposal) format is the best way to go.”

Under this scenario, the Housing Authority would not be in competition with the city, but its success competing against private developers to win the city’s bids could determine its future. Even members of its board have discussed dissolving the Housing Authority. Stahoviak said Housing Authority board members want to feel they’re serving a viable purpose. She said if they’re not, then perhaps the body should cease to exist.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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