YVHA leaders seek balance among entry-level, low-income and seasonal housing stock | SteamboatToday.com

YVHA leaders seek balance among entry-level, low-income and seasonal housing stock

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority is weighing a new tax to help it build on the success of the new income-restricted Reserves at Steamboat apartments.
Tom Ross

Who would get to vote?

The taxing district  of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority includes the city of Steamboat Springs and outlying properties within the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District, comprising 428 acres. Only registered voters living within th district would be eligible to vote. Property ownership, alone, is insufficient.

With the Yampa Valley Housing Authority due to make a decision Aug. 24 on whether to ask voters for a new property tax to bolster community housing supply, board member John Spezia told his colleagues July 13 he doesn’t believe its development plan places enough emphasis on building for-sale homes for entry-level buyers. Many of them he said, are working essential jobs, as teachers and nurses, for example, that represent the core of the community.

“As I reviewed the tentative timeline proposal for development, I noticed that only 50 entry-level ‘for-sale’ units (out of 150 total) were proposed for six years into the timeline,” Spezia said. “When I talk to community members, it’s their impression that entry-level homes are to be for sale.”

Fellow board member Cole Hewitt responded that it was his impression that the targets for entry-level housing are meant to be flexible, so the Housing Authority is free to pursue opportunities to collaborate with government agencies and private sector developers as they arise.

“We’ve always described it as a mixture of (housing), because we don’t know who we’ll be working with,” Hewitt said. “We need to make it clear it’s going to be a mix of long-term and rental homes.”

Board member Catherine Carson said as she introduced the Housing Authority’s tentative plans, the “greatest amount of heartache,” over the issue comes from people who aren’t enthusiastic about their tax dollars being used to help to purchase a home for someone else.

The board agreed Thursday to direct its development committee to revisit its definition of entry-level housing and its intentions for building attainable townhomes.

The board has until Sept. 8 to formally commit to an election with the Routt County Clerk’s Office. The Housing Authority, which is a statutory taxing entity, is contemplating asking voters for a 1 mill property tax, its first, to support development of new community housing units. It wants  to build on the success of the Steamboat Reserves income-restricted apartment project, which was completed this spring with the help of federal income tax credits supplied by the Colorado Housing Finance Authority.

Should the tax issue be placed on the ballot and approved by registered voters in the district, it is projected to generate $900,000 annually until it sunsets after 10 years.

Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley believes YVHA can capitalize on its momentum and deliver six to eight projects between now and 2030 in the seasonal, low-income and entry-level markets, and those projects would likely range in size from 30 units to 150 units.

“I have taken this out to 375 people in almost daily meetings,” Peasley said. “The vast majority seem to have some level of support for what we’re doing. Some are seeking more specificity.”

Peasley has been telling community groups that the authority’s goal is to use the tax to leverage other funding sources to develop 350 low-income housing units, another 350 seasonal housing beds and 150 entry-level housing units by 2030.

In his presentations, Peasley has told audiences that “entry-level housing is generally defined as long-term rental or for-purchase properties targeting households making between $35,000 and $75,000 in gross income. In terms of area median income, entry-level housing targets households making 60 percent to 120 percent AMI.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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