Howard: Hardworking locals need new housing ideas
Ever since I was old enough to knock doors and stamp envelopes, Election Day and the campaigning weeks leading into November have excited me. This year has been no different.
The important conversations taking place and the local initiatives on the ballot have the potential to be transformational for the lives of hardworking locals and families enrolled in our schools. Our elected officials have heard the need for affordable housing programs and have put thought into creating housing solutions as well as creating equity for all students in our schools. This is a mail-in ballot election, and the Nov. 2 deadline is looming. Please vote.
The housing initiatives on both the Town of Avon and Town of Vail ballots can create change — here is my insight on why they are important:
Housing has always been a challenge in the Eagle River Valley — the lack of affordable housing was the catalyst for the founding of, proudly, our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate 26 years ago. Even then, land was hard to come by.
Today, conversations continue around increasing the number of units along the housing continuum — from rentals to starter homes — to something that makes sense for permanence. While there is much work to be done, we are thrilled that we’re moving beyond just talking about changing the housing landscape to actually bringing housing to fruition. Local municipalities and governments are making strides to increase access to housing by thoroughly reviewing and approving private development applications that include locals’ housing and supporting funding ballot measures that need your support.
Support Local Journalism
One of the four key policy areas of Habitat’s “Cost of Home” Campaign is to increase supply and preservation of affordable homes. I believe the housing measures proposed by Avon and Vail will achieve that outcome, and they warrant a yes vote.
The town of Avon has proposed a 2% sales tax on short-term lodging rentals, and we are in favor of Avon’s sales tax on short-term lodging rentals. This 2% fee is anticipated to raise $655,000 in the first year to help fund community housing, that up until this initiative, did not have a dedicated funding source. The monies will go toward increasing the housing stock through partnerships.
The town of Vail has proposed Ballot Issue 2A that will authorize a 0.5% sales tax increase, excluding groceries, to fund housing initiatives, housing developments and housing programs. This means up to $4.5 million dollars raised in the first year for private-public partnerships to increase housing stock “to be used to fund housing initiatives, housing developments and housing programs and related activities inside and outside the town.”
There is also the Eagle County School District Board of Election. As I mentioned above, and throughout all the empowering reasons behind housing, I hope you will thoughtfully consider your candidate decision for equity in schools here, too.
A yes vote in Avon, Vail and for Eagle County School Board will help those who live and study in Eagle County to continue to thrive here at home. Together, we can create an inclusive learning and living environment.
As always, this is a secure mail-in ballot election. The last day to vote is Nov. 2 by 7 p.m. Polling centers, dates and times can be found at EagleCounty.us/clerkandrecorder/vspclocationsdatestimes. Visit GoVoteColorado.gov to confirm your voter registration.
Elyse Howard is the director of development for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. She oversees the advocacy efforts of Habitat Vail Valley, working with local, state and national leaders to increase access to housing.