Snowmass considers relaxing affordable housing rules |

Snowmass considers relaxing affordable housing rules

Katie Redding
Aspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colorado ” The soft real estate market has prompted the Snowmass Town Council to consider relaxing some of its requirements for purchasing deed-restricted, affordable housing.

The last two Daly Townhomes that were put on the market did not find Snowmass buyers, and went out for bid to workers in Pitkin County, said Town Attorney John Dresser at the Feb. 2 council meeting.

At a council meeting Monday, Councilman Reed Lewis worried aloud that more housing could end up in the hands of people who live outside of Snowmass, and that it could be years before the housing returns to Snowmass employees.

Currently all Snowmass employees who have worked in the town for at least one year are eligible for the housing lottery whenever a housing unit goes on the market. Employees receive more “chances” for additional years.

If there are no takers, the housing goes out for bid to employees in broader Pitkin County.

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But the Town Council is now considering offering the housing to a second group of employees ” those who have worked in the town only six months, provided there are no takers in the first group.

It might also offer housing to a third group of “special district” employees before the housing goes to Pitkin County employees. Special district employees who provide “critical services,” such as teachers, hospital workers, or Roaring Fork Transportation Authority workers, would be eligible.

Council members even contemplated having the town purchase some units and rent them out to employees until Snowmass buyers could be found.

At the same meeting, Town Manager Russ Forrest also brought to light a potential flaw in the town’s rules for deed-restricted housing. The flaw could require deed-restricted housing to depreciate in a recession.

Currently, deed-restricted homes in Snowmass must appreciate at the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 3 percent, whichever is lower.

But recently, the CPI has been a negative number, said Forrest. He worried that current rules could require the owner of a deed-restricted home to sell it for less than its purchase price.

It’s a question going all around the high country, in towns with a stock of affordable housing, said Forrest.

“People never contemplated that the CPI would go down,” he said.

Council members discussed several options, but most appeared to prefer a plan to keep appreciation flat whenever the CPI is a negative number.

Council made no decisions on either matter Monday night, but will continue to discuss both issues at future meetings.

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