Congressman Jared Polis floats affordable-housing bills
Congressman Jared Polis spoke in Frisco Thursday to announce two new bills related to regional affordable housing; one providing land for future development in Summit County and a second simplifying finance regulations for attainable housing in high-tourism areas such as Eagle and Summit counties.
“There are government regulations and a high cost of living that make it harder for families that work in our communities to live in our communities,” Polis said at a news conference held at Frisco Town Hall. “And as our mountain communities continue to thrive and grow, affordable housing … becomes even more important.”
Polis introduced the Affordable Housing Regulation Simplification Act, a bill without local roots, but potentially with a high local impact. The Simplification Act would revise existing affordable housing finance regulations in designated high-tourism areas. If approved, it would form a new workforce housing mortgage category for prospective homebuyers who work in the tourism industry and live in high tourism areas. It would also relax Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Federal Housing Administration restrictions on the types of properties frequently found in resort communities.
Polis said he expects the agencies to come out against the bill, but hopes fighting it won’t be a top priority.
“It needs to be marketed as a narrow fix for resort communities that doesn’t expose them to any more risk. And there’s no reason it would,” he said. “We’re not expecting support, but I don’t expect they’ll be putting in a major effort against these bills.”
Polis’ other bill, The Lake Hill Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act, if passed, would allow the Summit County government to purchase a 40-acre parcel of land between Interstate 70, the Dillon Dam Road from the U.S. Forest Service for future development as affordable housing. The Dillon Ranger District would keep the money from the sale to help fund a new administrative compound or other infrastructure in the future.
Officials said the plot, surrounded by development and recently stripped of most of its timber following the pine beetle epidemic, has lost its national forest character.
“This process has really been multiple years in the works,” county commissioner Dan Gibbs said. “We’ve really come up with an important bill that will be great for our community.”
Polis plans to introduce both bills in Washington when Congress reconvenes next week. He said he anticipates little opposition to the Lake Hill measure and is cautiously optimistic both bills could be signed by 2014.
Polis’s visit to Frisco Thursday ended a week-long tour across Colorado.