Editorial: Buying homes vs. odds
Most of us can’t afford to live here, yet somehow we do. Miller Ranch, the county’s great affordable housing success story, has waiting lists full of locals vying to get their hands on the rare unit that comes up for sale. Workers are buying up homes made affordable with appreciation caps and deed restrictions that keep second-home owners a safe distance away. And plenty of everyday people have managed to purchase free-market homes, thanks to down-payment assistance programs or “creative” financing options that let a buyer with a decent income and good credit get into a place regardless of how much money they have saved in the bank. We still need to do more to make sure Eagle County is a place where its workers can live. Part of the solution is getting the word out about locals who have made it work. County officials bemoan the fact that few take advantage of the county’s down payment assistance program. That program lets local residents who qualify borrow up to 5 percent of a home’s purchase price at low, low interest rates. Just having that bit of cash has made several renters into home owners. To learn more about it and other first-time homebuyer programs, log onto http://www.eaglecounty.us/housing. Local leaders also need to continue work on increasing the affordable housing supply, too. Requiring developers to set aside a certain percentage of their projects for workforce housing is just one way of accomplishing this goal. As free-market homes climb out of the reach of even doctors and lawyers, its clear we need government and the private sector to work together again on yet another Miller Ranch, probably built a little farther downvalley from Edwards where there’s more land, and relatively cheaper at that. And we taxpayers need to consider our role in solving the problem. Do we need to tax ourselves to build more affordable housing? Do we need to be a little less possessive of our open spaces and let dense, affordable housing developments be built in our backyards? Do places like Vail need to reconsider the best use of real-estate transfer taxes, which currently can’t be used to build workforce housing? We need to be willing to say yes to some of those questions and more if we are at all serious about making Eagle County a place where workers can continue to live.- Tamara Miller for the Editorial Board.
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