Our view: There’s no time to waste

At issue: Preserving workforce housing momentum

Our view: The Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s decision to seek new affordable housing proposals in advance of the 2017 election demonstrates foresight and focus on community goals

The news, Jan. 11, that the Yampa Valley Housing Authority was already prepared, just 49 days after the Nov. 7, 2017 election, to move forward with two distinctly different plans that could add an additional 130 affordable housing units to the community’s inventory was almost breathtaking.

The all-volunteer housing authority board and its executive director Jason Peasley calculated, in advance of learning of the election outcome, that if it wanted to keep the housing pump primed, it needed to solicit requests for proposals from prospective developers in advance. And there was a legitimate sense of urgency on the part of housing authority members; they have been given a very aggressive goal.

We would remind you that in December 2016, the Community Housing Steering Committee called out the need for the creation of 700 diverse new housing units, plus 250 additional beds for seasonal workers in the city and county, all by 2020.

And that goal represents just enough supply to close the supply gap from where it stood 14 months ago. Demand continues to increase, December 2020 is three years away and there’s much work to be done.

With that in mind, the housing authority board voted last week to simultaneously pursue partnerships with two different developers.

One involves a plan by SW Development Group principal Scott Yeates to convert the Alpiner motel, currently housing seasonal workers, into 34 income-restricted apartments with kitchenettes.

Some might wonder, “Where will the seasonal workers currently living in the motel be housed in the future?”

It’s a valid question, but there may already be preliminary talks underway between the housing authority members and  some of the largest employers in Steamboat’s hospitality industry about how to develop new seasonal workforce housing. If those talks in fact are taking place, they could result in a different set of partnerships geared to collaborating on new housing projects for seasonal workers.

The second proposal the authority is performing diligence on, is from Overland Property Group of Kansas to build a 96-apartment complex with an estimated construction cost of $26 million.

Overland is the same developer that built the 48 apartments in The Reserves at Steamboat — we’re confident they would deliver a quality product on time.

Still, the housing authority wisely assigned members Kathi Meyer and Cole Hewitt, both with experience in real estate lending, to scour Overland’s latest proposal; with public tax dollars comes heightened fiscal responsibility for how that money is spent.

Both projects being pursued by the housing authority are dependent on its success in being awarded federal income tax credits by the Colorado Housing Finance Authority. It’s no sure thing, but there is reason to be optimistic that another large step toward meeting workforce housing needs will unfold over the next two years.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.