Rich Levy: Affordable housing falls short
January 31, 2019
Brynn Grey Partners has proposed an 140-acre annexation called West Steamboat Neighborhoods. It includes 450 homes in three separate neighborhoods. Included are 100 market-rate homes for locals and a parcel of land donated to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan was created to oversee annexation in this area. The plan states "one of the fundamental objectives of the the plan is the provision of attainable and affordable housing." In order to achieve this, the plan sets standards that any proposal will be measured against. That standard is that "20 percent of the units must be affordable for residents making an average of 80 percent of AMI" — area median income or $42,160.
The 100 units to be built by Brynn Grey can be purchased by anyone regardless of income or assets. There are 20 units "targeted" to begin pricing at over $325,000. The remaining 80 "deed-restricted" units will be priced well above that. These units will only be available to those with a huge bank account or large incomes
In order to achieve a balance, Brynn Grey proposes that the Housing Authority will build 50 units for lower-income residents on land donated to them. The problem with this is that Housing Authority does not want to be committed to anything at this time.
The legal agreement between the two does not require any number of units, nor does it even require the Housing Authority to be the developer of this donated land. For comparison, only half of the units in the Housing Authority’s current project, Alpenglow Village, are proposed for low-income residents with the remainder available to above average income residents.
The West Steamboat Springs Area Plan is older. Though all recent surveys show that the community still considers affordable housing one of it tops concerns. If City Council feels that the plan is outdated, then they should do the appropriate outreach and work to update the plan with community input, instead of ignoring it.
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At its Tuesday, Feb. 5 meeting, City Council will have its second, and final, reading to approve this annexation. You can attend the meeting or email council here: http://co-steamboatsprings.civicplus.com/FormCenter/City-Council-19/City-Council-Contact-Form-103.