Vail Town Council gives initial OK to housing fund boost, with reservations
The Vail Town Council at its meeting on Tuesday, June 19, approved a resolution making changes to the town’s housing lottery system. That system had seen fewer and fewer participants in recent years, mainly because it was weighted so heavily toward long-time residents.
The new system will give newer residents, and people living elsewhere in the county, at least a chance at winning the right to buy a deed-restricted home when it comes up for resale.
The new system gives applicants a maximum of five entries into the lottery. People who have lived and worked in town for a long period get the most tickets.
Still, it only takes one ticket to win.
VAIL — The Vail InDeed program has been successful beyond expectations. The problem now is keeping it going.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday, June 19, approved on first reading a supplemental budget that puts another $1.5 million into the town’s housing fund. That fund is being used to purchase deed restrictions that keep homes more affordable for local buyers.
The InDeed program is part of the Vail 2027 housing plan, which envisions adding 1,000 new deed-restricted housing units to the town by 2027. Many, if not most, of those new restrictions will come from unit sales. That means buying deed restrictions. That, in essence, means purchasing a share of a home’s free-market value in exchange for keeping that home in the hands of locals.
Those restrictions can also be for rental units — such as the 65 deed restrictions the town purchased for the new Solar Vail apartments just east of Red Sandstone Elementary School. The cost of that purchase was $4.3 million.
But the program has also been aimed at homesellers. The Vail Housing Department has research indicating roughly 90 percent of all home sales in town go to second-home buyers. To keep homes affordable for locals, the town is putting up money to give buyers full market value while keeping homes reasonably affordable for locals.
So far, buying deed restrictions from homeowners has been effective, but expensive.
Program Cost Worries
Deed restriction purchase prices have averaged about $94,000 each, ranging from $60,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $150,000 for a 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom unit.
At those prices, a $1.5 million infusion will allow roughly 15 purchases.
The cost of the program so far worries Vail Town Manager Greg Clifton.
Clifton told council members the town’s reserves are shrinking and will drop rapidly over the next couple of years.
Continuing to fund the program at seven-figure levels will ultimately force the town to stop funding something else, Clifton said.
Vail Local Housing Authority Chairman Steve Lindstrom told the council the market for deed restrictions is still trying to work itself out.
Council member Greg Moffet, long an advocate of town spending on housing, said he believes the Vail InDeed program will see “a greater degree of discipline” moving forward.
The discussion about the program’s sustainability also led to further talk about the prospect of asking Vail voters for a permanent housing fund of some kind.
“We need to move more quickly” on that request, council member Kim Langmaid said.
If council members decide to ask voters for any kind of tax increase — a small property tax increase has been mentioned — then it could come as quickly as November 2019.
The overall budget request will have one more hearing before becoming official. Council member Jenn Bruno said she’s in favor of this addition to the housing fund but added that town officials need to closely monitor the progress of the InDeed program.
With council member Jen Mason absent, the council voted 5-1 for approval. Council member Kevin Foley was opposed.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2930.
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