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Yampa Valley Housing Authority works with tenants to help ease uncertain times

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority is working with tenants at the Hillside Village Apartments and Fish Creek Mobile Home Park during the COVID-19 crisis. The housing authority will not evict residents or assess late fees on rent during April, May and June to help ease stress and economic concerns.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Yampa Valley Housing Authority announced it will not be evicting tenants or charging late fees on rent in the Fish Creek Falls Mobile Home Park and Hillside Village Apartments in the wake of the disruption caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus in Colorado.

“We knew that this was, surely, uncertain times for a lot of our clients. A lot of people are losing some or all of their income for an indefinite period of time, and that causes a lot of stress and anxiety,” said Jason Peasley, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority that manages the properties. “Our thought was, ‘What can we do to help?’ and for us, waiving late fees was really an easy one. It’s nobody’s fault that they’re losing their jobs right now.”

Peasley wants tenants to know they are not going to lose their homes during this crisis.

So in addition to waiving late fees on rent for the months of April, May and June, the housing authority also will not evict tenants for nonpayment of rent with the documentation from their employer of work interruption resulting from COVID-19. The housing authority also will work with tenants on payment plans to cover all current and future past due balances, which will be payable by Dec. 31, 2020.

“We basically want to send a message to our tenants that we’re here to support you. If you get in a bad spot because of this, come talk to us, and we’re here to help you,” Peasley said. “You’re not going to lose your housing because you’re late on rent or you didn’t pay rent. We encourage everyone to still make payments if they can, in part or in whole, but if they can’t, we’re going to work with them.”

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The housing authority manages 120 units in Steamboat Springs, and Peasley said the organization is in a position to weather this crisis.

“We have reserves for each property, and we’re in a financial position to help people work through this,” Peasley said. “It will be much more beneficial to our tenants to have that flexibility, than for us to have the money in the bank.”

The housing authority is one of the owners of The Reserves at Steamboat, which is run by Ross Management, a third-party manager. Ross has adopted a similar policy for its residents at The Reserves.

Ross sent out a letter to tenants last week concerning the economic impacts of COVID-19. Ross said his management company will not evict tenants for nonpayment of rent with documentation for their employers and will suspend late fees on rent.

The company also encourages tenants who lost their jobs to apply for unemployment benefits and to make payments in full, or in part, if they can.

“I think that it’s just an unprecedented time, and the recommendation from staff was that there was an inquiry about this and about people that could be potentially affected with the layoffs that happened to the restaurant industry and slowdown in the local economy,” said Cole Hewitt, president of the housing authority board. “There’s a concern from every corner of the community about what this uncertainty can bring.”

Hewitt, who is the vice president, chief financial officer and information security officer at Yampa Valley Bank, said the bank has been getting calls from people with the same concerns about not having cash flow for loans or for deposits. He said everybody has to work specifically within their organization to do what is right by the organization or business, their clients and their customers.

In this case, the housing authority feels their actions are right for the community.

“Ultimately, this is just a move for us to help support the community through these tough uncertain times,” Peasley said. “I hope that message comes across in what we’re doing.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.


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