Steamboat Living: 20 Under 40-Jason Peasley
When Jason Peasley first considered leaving a secure job with the Steamboat Springs Planning Department to head up the nonprofit Yampa Valley Housing Authority (YVHA), the mix of emotions he experienced reminded him of one of the greatest outdoor adventures of his young, 33-year-old life – rowing the thundering rapids of the Grand Canyon.
“When I did the Grand Canyon, I was pretty green when it came to rowing,” he says. “It was trial by fire to some degree; rowing an 18-foot boat through water I’d never seen before was really challenging. But I had faith I could rise to the occasion and I wasn’t afraid of failure. It happens.”
Fortunately for the city of Steamboat Springs, Peasley, a new father, didn’t shrink from the challenge of becoming the executive director of YVHA in October 2012. He came on board at a time when the agency was strapped with $2 million in debt linked to a land purchase during the height of the real estate run-up in the mid-2000s. Peasley, who earned a degree in urban and regional planning from Michigan State University, took on the challenge of eliminating the debt and leveraging the land into a new 48-unit, affordable apartment project under construction this summer on Steamboat’s west side. The Reserves at Steamboat broke ground this year.
“Taking the Housing Authority job was a stretch for me,” he says. “I often equate it to rowing the Grand. You go into it thinking you know what you’re doing, but as you go into the job, you discover all the things you don’t know.
“You wouldn’t do it without the challenge,” he adds. “That’s why I took this job, leaving a secure position at the city to challenge myself and grow as a professional. I wanted to make a more significant impact on the community. That’s what I value: a challenge and working to help my community.”
Peasley, with the support of a high-powered board of directors, succeeded in securing a federal income tax credit award that allowed YVHA to bring critical equity to the apartment building project. YVHA was able to partner with apartment developer Overland Property Group to launch the income-restricted apartments, which will become home to households earning less than the local median income.
And that $2 million in debt? it was wiped out in the business deal, freeing YVHA to look to the future—similar to Peasley looking downstream for other obstacles when he was rowing the Grand.
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