Park Circle

There are 275 entrants in the lottery for the 11 new affordable rental apartments located at 517 Park Circle in Aspen. The drawing to determine the lucky tenants is scheduled for noon on Oct 29. 

Nearly 275 people put their names in for 11 new affordable rental units by the closing of Wednesday’s bid period.

The Aspen Housing Partners development, at 517 Park Circle in Aspen, is a mix of one- and two-bedroom units — totaling 15 beds overall — meant for members of the workforce in income categories 2, 3, and 4.

The Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority will conduct four lotteries during a live Zoom screening on Thursday at 12 p.m. Two of the one-bedroom units are reserved for those who make less than $65,750, or $75,150 as a couple. The rent will be $1,112 each month. There are five one-bedroom units reserved for those in Category 3, meaning prospective inhabitants earn less than $100,600 for one tenant, or $114,950 for two.

Singles can not bid on two-bedroom apartments within the APCHA system. There are four two-bedroom units in the complex — reserved for Category 3 and 4 tenants — earning below $129,300 or $203,900 combined income, respectively.

APCHA Deputy Director Cindy Christensen said 10 names will be pulled out of the hat for each available unit, should the winner decide to pass or be unable to show their qualifications.

“If they don’t qualify, we are going to go to the next person on the list,” Christensen said.

Hopefully for prospects, it’s only needed that a pre-application form be completed to be put in the lottery — but the system requires a more rigorous process, including providing 2019 taxes to prove would-be tenants’ eligibility, should they be selected.

“Until we actually get the paperwork from the people who win this lottery, they are not approved,” Christensen said.

The latest lottery selection at 517 Park Circle is the second of three new complexes built by Aspen Housing Partners to go online this year. New one-bedroom rentals, at 802 Main Street, drew interest from 168 hopefuls for the 10 units. Christensen said that in that case, nine out of 10 of those units are now occupied by the first-place winner.

“There was only one person who decided not to move forward,” she said.

Though APCHA is responsible to qualifying applicants to make sure they meet work and income requirements, the authority will not be managing the residences after the lottery drawing.

Rather, a private management company has been created to oversee all three of the Aspen Housing Partners complexes. The property manager will be responsible for selecting tenants in the future, should an apartment become available. While all residents would still need to show approved paperwork from APCHA, they will not be held to the seniority system that APCHA-managed rentals, such as Truscott, operate under.

In that case, open units are given to whichever applicant can show the longest-running work history within the county. In that case, apartments go to applicants with 30- to 40-year work histories.

When Aspen City Council approved the Aspen Housing Partners’ project, they elected to do away with the tenure system and allow anyone working in the county to have an equal shot at a lease.

“What their concern was is you have a lot of new people who have been here for maybe a year, two years that don’t have a chance to move into anything,” Christensen said. “This allows people for these new projects so have that opportunity.”

She said she understands the perspective of both the long-time workers and new residents.

“We’ve gotten people that are so thankful that don’t have that work history, and we have people who have a long work history, and they go, ‘That doesn’t seem quite right,’” she said.

Construction on the final of the three new developments to come online is still underway at 488 Castle Creek Road. Federal funding went into the project in exchange for ensuring residents would be in low-income tax brackets. Tenants will have to show they meet the federal standard for low income — 60% the area median income.

APCHA’s Category 1 includes those who earn up to 50% area median income, whereas Category 2 expands up to those who make 85%, which means the eligibility cutoff will need to be verified directly by the property manager.

“We (APCHA) are going to qualify them to the categories. The property management company is going to qualify them under the low income housing tax credit regulations,” Christensen said. “It’s going to be a little more difficult.”

Ahead of the 517 Park Circle lottery, APCHA will provide a full list of eligible participants so that hopefuls may verify their entry. The lists should be available on the APCHA website by Tuesday morning.

Alycin Bektesh is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at Alycin@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @alycinwonder.