Vail deed restriction purchase program has had success so far this year
Town of Vail is investigating whether to ask voters for a permanent source of funding for housing
- $2.5 million: Money allocated in 2019 to the Vail InDeed deed restriction purchase program.
- 19: Applications received so far this year
- 9: Closed transactions.
- $91,200: Average cost per deed restriction.
VAIL — The Vail 2027 housing plan set an ambitious goal: add 1,000 new deed-restricted housing units to the town’s inventory in the span of a decade. So far, there’s been some progress.
Members of the Vail Local Housing Authority board met last week with the Vail Town Council to provide a semi-annual update on the authority’s progress. That volunteer board, along with a two-person staff, is responsible for making the town’s housing plans work.
A key element of the housing plan is the Vail InDeed program, in which the town purchases deed restrictions on either new units or those being sold on the open market.
The idea of buying deed restrictions on existing units is to keep those units out of the town’s second-home inventory. In return for the town buying an interest in the home — about $91,000 per unit on average so far in 2019 — the new owner agrees to place a restriction on the home. Those restrictions ensure the units will be occupied by full-time residents working an annual average of 30 hours per week.
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That restriction, in theory, will keep the homes within reach of local buyers the next time those units come on the market.
Progress in 2019
So far in 2019, the town has closed on nine deed restriction purchases. Four of those units have one bedroom. The remainder have three.
Authority board chairman Steve Lindstrom told council members that the process is becoming “more efficient” as town officials have more experience buying restrictions.
The town’s investment so far adds up to $820,800, a substantial portion of the $2.5 million the town allocated to the program this year. Lindstrom said he expects transactions through the rest of the year will use all the 2019 allocation.
Since the program began, the program has closed 25 transactions.
A permanent funding source?
While deals are closing, council members have said the town can’t continue to put general fund money into the program.
That’s why the housing authority board is now investigating whether to ask town voters for a permanent funding source — probably a tax of some kind.
The housing authority is currently conducting a survey, both online and via telephone interviews. Lindstrom told council members that the survey required roughly 200 responses to be statistically valid. So far, more than 600 people have taken the online survey.
In addition, the authority is also looking into the economic value housing more workers in town, as well as the environmental impacts of more workforce housing in town.
“The greenest thing we can do is house people here,” Lindstrom said.
Mayor Dave Chapin complimented the authority board for its work, calling the efforts “overwhelmingly positive.”
Vail Housing Director George Ruther said other communities are closely watching what Vail is doing.
Ruther said Breckenridge is creating an InDeed program of its own. Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley Housing Authority are also looking at Vail’s program, he added.
Council member Greg Moffet noted that Moab is also looking into Vail’s workforce housing efforts.
And, Lindstrom said, the authority board is looking into other ways to keep workers in or near Vail.
“You never know whether deals will come together,” Lindstrom said. “There’s a lot more opportunity ahead of us.”
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.