Yampa Valley Housing Authority will be ‘challenged in new ways’ after voters pass STR tax | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Housing Authority will be ‘challenged in new ways’ after voters pass STR tax

Housing authority board looks to add as many as seven new members

Jason Peasley, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, speaks to the crowd at the Stings Music Pavilion on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, while laying out the Yampa Valley Housing Authority's plans for the Brown Ranch property.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

When Steamboat Springs Council member Michael Buccino walked in to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board meeting Thursday, Nov. 10, he had three words for the agency’s executive director.

“We got funding,” Buccino told Jason Peasley after Steamboat voters passed the city’s 2A ballot measure Tuesday, Nov. 8.

“You got funding,” Peasley replied, clarifying that City Council is the ultimate arbiter of where the funding goes.

The campaign around the tax at times got ugly with the housing authority’s Brown Ranch development and Peasley himself becoming targets.

At the board’s first meeting since voters approved the tax 62% to 38%, Peasley said the housing authority and board members will likely be challenged in new ways as work on Brown Ranch continues.

“There are 2,000 plus people that voted no on the STR tax,” Peasley said during the meeting. “That’s probably not all a referendum on Brown Ranch and the work that we do, but there’s a component of our community that still has serious questions and doubts about what it is that we’re doing.”

Peasley has been at the helm of the housing authority for a decade. Since he started, the housing authority has grown its annual budget tenfold and now controls assets worth nearly $45 million.

In his update to the board, Peasley reflected on accomplishments over that time, but he stressed that they need a new set of guiding principals as they move forward. He said that while the housing authority has the community’s trust now, they couldn’t take it for granted.

“The seeds of dissent towards our mission have recently been sown through polarizing campaign rhetoric, and those seeds may grow into legitimate resistance to our mission,” Peasley wrote in the update. “In the future, we will need to be more resilient than ever to the forces that will try to take our focus away from the housing authority’s mission.”

The four principals Peasley outlined for the housing authority were to authentically know the community, do right by the people, systemize the agency’s methods and relentlessly driving to achieve the housing authority’s mission.

Peasley said the first principal — knowing the community — would be particularly important when working to find as many as seven new housing authority board members next month.

“We’re looking for people with particular lived experience and a set of skills that can help us authentically know our people and be able to deliver the solutions that they need,” Peasley said.

Two board members have resigned in recent months because they could no longer afford the housing they wanted in Steamboat, and a third position was already open. Board member Mike Beyer said Thursday that he didn’t intend to apply to serve a third three-year term on the board when his expires in January.

Peasley said three board members have expressed a desire to keep their seats, but as many as four seats would be open.

Board members of the housing authority are appointed by a joint group of three City Council members and three Routt County commissioners. Buccino said Tuesday that interviews for new board members could happen as soon as early December.

The application to join the housing authority board is available on the city’s website and asks several questions of those interested in the role, including what experiences they have that would lend well to them serving on the board. Applications are due Nov. 23.

The application says the commitment is roughly four to 10 hours a month and members need to attend at least 70% of meetings. There is no deadline on the application, but it seems the process is moving quickly.

Not all seven seats need to be filled, as the board’s bylaws state it needs to have seven to 15 members. Still, Peasley anticipated each seat would be filled, either by a current member or by someone new.

“Support of the mission is really what we’re looking for,” Peasley said.

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