Eagle County Housing Task Force: Let’s make this the year of housing getting built | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Housing Task Force: Let’s make this the year of housing getting built

Kristin Kenney Williams and Bobby Lipnick
Valley Voices

The new year was ushered in with trepidation around the U.S. economy, but the volunteer-member Eagle County Housing Task Force remains committed to doubling down on bringing regional housing solutions to fruition.

If there’s anything we all should have learned from the housing bubble and subsequent recession of 2008, it’s that we didn’t double down on community housing and, likely because of that, we’re in an attainable housing crisis today.

In our eyes, 2023 came roaring in with tremendous opportunities to be resilient and action-focused. Here’s where you will see our Eagle County Housing Task Force efforts deployed:

We are off to an exciting start to the Colorado legislative session, with affordable housing being a priority issue trumpeted by Gov. Polis and state lawmakers. The first Senate bill of the year is aimed at identifying underutilized state-owned land for public-private partnerships to build housing. The Task Force supports this legislation — along with other key Eagle County stakeholder groups — and with its passage, land in the EagleVail/Dowd Junction area would be available for a significant partnership to occur, with a minimum of 80 new housing units and the potential for many more.

Kristin Kenny Williams

Our Task Force meets with candidates for the many appointed and elected positions across our valley, including our state representatives. We’re very proud to have supported Sen. Dylan Roberts and Rep. Meghan Lukens last November — and they are doing us proud by cosponsoring SB23-001 right out of the gate.

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Bobby Lipnick

In seeing the success of helping action-oriented candidates like Roberts and Lukens, we will continue to monitor upcoming elections here in the Eagle River Valley and help recruit pro-housing candidates.

Sen. Roberts — formerly Rep. Roberts — successfully advocated for workforce housing-related legislation (Bill 1304 and Prop. 123 that passed on the November statewide ballot) that frees up generational funding for communities across the state. Our Task Force will continue to advocate for that funding to be allocated in part to projects here in our backyard.

In addition to the massive potential of the development of local state-owned parcels, we will focus on helping to create and advocate for other public-private housing opportunities. These opportunities are complicated and challenging to put together — but they are the only way to get housing built and especially for-sale versus rental units (we must pursue a variety of housing needs). We supported and applaud Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, Eagle County Schools, Eagle County, and the town of Eagle for partnering on new, for-sale attainable housing units to break ground this year.

It should be noted that the Dowd Junction opportunity will come to fruition in large part because the legislation will eliminate the cost of land. Another key component that must occur is the streamlining of the governmental processes to allow for housing on this site. Cutting the red tape in all of our Eagle River Valley jurisdictions for housing projects is long overdue, and the Task Force will seek opportunities to advocate for this work to be done. Tools are being created to identify land and project opportunities that we will continue to promote.

Let’s make 2023 the year of housing getting built. Join us on March 16 when we will present as part of the Vail Symposium program, YIMBY JAMBOREE: Local Housing Solutions in Vail and Eagle County. We are fortunate to live in a state that top-down to its local communities is very bullish on housing. We hope you can join us to learn how to turn words into action.

Kristin Kenney Williams and Bobby Lipnick are members of the Eagle County Housing Task Force.

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