Aspen: Doctor ordered to sell affordable housing unit
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board of directors Wednesday night ordered an Aspen doctor to sell his house for allegedly not living in it enough days of the year.
Dr. Kenton Bruice said the housing authority voted 3-1 to order him to sell the home that he and his wife constructed in the North 40 neighborhood in 2004.
“I think it’s a very borderline case and they’re trying to set an example that they’re not be messed with,” Bruice said after the decision.
Housing authority Director Tom McCabe couldn’t be reached for comment after the meeting.
A former neighbor of the Bruices filed a complaint with the housing authority in March contending that they allegedly weren’t living in the house for the number of days required under affordable housing guidelines. The requirement is 275 days annually.
Bruice said he supplied documentation that showed he stayed at the house at least partially for 277 days per year. He said he felt the housing authority board majority wasn’t interested in trying to comprehend his math.
Bruice is an obstetrician and gynecologist who practices in Aspen and Denver. He said his wife, Donna, spends more time in Aspen than he does, but the housing authority wouldn’t consider her residency because she isn’t on the property deed.
Bruice said he was told by the housing authority board he could reapply to live in a deed-restricted unit if his wife is added to the deed, but it was uncertain if that would negate the order to sell his house. It was also left unclear at the meeting what kind of effort he must make to try to sell his home, which he said is worth $1.4 million. He said he intends to put a “for sale” sign in front of the house.
“How aggressively do I have to be about selling my house?” he asked.
The Bruices have one child and another on the way. Bruice said he bought the land, hired an architect and nearly went bankrupt building the house. At one point in that process, he would have gladly surrendered the structure if the housing authority had asked, he said, but not now.
“I’m very tied to this house. My sweat and blood is in this house,” he said.