Steamboat, Routt County officials have shortlist for housing authority board openings; final recommendations expected Friday |

Steamboat, Routt County officials have shortlist for housing authority board openings; final recommendations expected Friday

More than 20 people applied to serve in volunteer role with Brown Ranch development on horizon

Longtime Routt County resident Dan Hebard, with a walking cane, was among the crowd of people who showed up at the Strings Music Pavilion on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, to see how the Yampa Valley Housing Authority plans to develop affordable housing at the Brown Ranch property west of Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

A joint group of Steamboat Springs City Council members and Routt County commissioners has a shortlist of candidates to appoint on the Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board, but the process isn’t over yet.

Two commissioners and three City Council members convened as the Yampa Valley Housing Authority Appointments Committee on Tuesday, Dec. 6, to interview 20 candidates for the board, which currently has seven openings.

City Council member Joella West said the abundance of candidates looking to serve on the volunteer board was a sign the community recognizes how important the housing authority’s Brown Ranch project is for the future of Steamboat Springs.

“It speaks well that the community not only is interested, but that they are willing to work toward this really important goal,” West said.

The 14-member citizen board meets each month and oversees the housing authority. Each member also sits on a committee that focuses on specific issues like policy, finance or development.

Housing authority bylaws allow the board to have anywhere from seven to 15 members, and Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan said they are considering expanding the size of the board by recommending eight new members.

“None of these people are guaranteed a spot, at least not yet,” Corrigan said.

“Right, but this is our shortlist,” said council member Heather Sloop.

After interviews on Tuesday, the committee identified eight of the candidates on a shortlist to be appointed to the board, but there are still three interviews to conduct. Two applications didn’t reach the county in time to set up an interview, and a third wasn’t able to interview on Tuesday.

The eight applicants on the shortlist include Jim Beers, Alison Brodie, Axel Rios, Patrick Phillips, Jeremy Behling, Michael Ann Marchand, Kelly Gallegos and Lou Tortora. Multiple members of the appointment committee also like candidates Reese Freeman and Norbert Turek, though they weren’t on the shortlist.

“I just want to highlight how difficult of a decision it was for us,” Corrigan said. “All the candidates were quality, and any one of them would have made a good housing authority board member.”

The committee will meet again at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, to interview the remaining candidates and make final recommendations on whom to appoint to the board. Those recommendations will then go to City Council and Routt County commissioners for final approval, though that step is typically a formality.

Each candidate got a 10-minute interview, though they submitted answers to several questions as part of their application. Questions included how the candidate felt about the housing authority’s desire to annex the Brown Ranch into the city next year, whether adding to the housing supply alone can solve Steamboat’s housing woes and how their background would be an asset on the board.

While not a requirement, the intergovernmental agreement that set up the housing authority says the board should be “a diverse mix of interests, demographics and technical expertise.” The agreement specifically calls out a member of the local Habitat for Humanity board, a representative of an employer with more than 100 employees, low or middle income residents, and people that work in banking, finance, real estate, construction, health care and the tourism industry.

“We can refine (the shortlist), but that could be it, and if it is, we’ve done a pretty good job of covering, as far as I can think of, all the basis,” West said.

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