Housing officials agreed that the local government has a limited role in correcting affordable housing capital reserve deficits in the first of two meetings on select issues affecting the program.
The local government has a responsibility to protect the affordable housing inventory from deterioration, since it is a community resource, but it should not act as a bank, loaning out money for homeowners to make necessary repairs, said summit moderator Colin Laird, summarizing the day’s discussion.
How to deal with underfunded capital reserves was one of the four topics on the agenda for this year’s housing summit, which is occurring in a joint work session format between Aspen City Council, Pitkin County commissioners and the board of the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA) over two days. The other topics include how the housing authority is governed, how the authority should deal with the issue of the large portion of the workforce living in affordable housing that is due to retire and whether the housing authority should broaden its role to incorporate more social services.
Ideally, all affordable housing homeowner associations will opt for a sound and responsible method of financing their capital reserves, which the housing authority can suggest through education efforts. APCHA might also devise a program where if HOAs follow plans prescribed by the housing authority, APCHA could possibly offer some incentive, it was said at the summit. To that end, the group directed staff to research different private and public financing mechanisms in an effort to find what option is the best for the housing authority.
Meanwhile, multiple officials were in consensus that the retirement issue isn’t as big of a threat to the current affordable housing inventory as previously thought, because many retirees will opt to leave the area themselves.
“It’s not the crisis that we once thought it was,” said Mayor Mick Ireland.
Officials also agreed that offering the elderly incentives to leave their affordable housing units when they retire sent the wrong message to the community.
“We need to look at [affordable housing categories] in context of the life cycle,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards. “... We need to be careful not to incentivize people to do what they would already do over time.”
A handful of people spoke during a public comment period asking the government officials to send a clear message to retirees that they will not be kicked out of their units.
That will never be the case, said Councilman Adam Frisch. Kicking retirees out of their homes has never been an option for the housing authority.
The issue of governance and social services will be discussed on Oct. 11.