Board warned of upcoming Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority needs | AspenTimes.com

Board warned of upcoming Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority needs

The local affordable-housing authority's plans to modernize its computer system and hire a compliance officer means Pitkin County will likely be asked for a sizable amount of money next year, a county official said Tuesday.

Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock told county board members he wanted them to be prepared for the request, as well as the continuing expense of hiring the compliance officer.

"You guys will see a pretty significant request from (Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority) in the coming year," Peacock said. "It's good for APCHA to understand if the board is concerned about ongoing expenses" before anyone is hired for the position.

APCHA estimates it will need about $100,000 extra for the compliance officer and a new database that will allow details about the nearly 3,000 deed-restricted units in the area to be easily accessible.

An interim database is set to come online in July for internal APCHA use only, said Manny Hernandez, the authority's management analyst. A full database for public use also is being planned.

Commissioner Rachel Richards said she's heard that the public database may cost $600,000, and pointed out that the county, unlike the city, does not have dedicated forms of financing for the housing authority. That means any money from Pitkin County will come out of the county's general fund, she said.

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As for the issue of compliance enforcement, Richards said she wanted to avoid sowing fear in the minds of affordable-housing residents.

"I don't want to see a few bad apples … have everyone fear for their homes if something happens," she said. "People think this is the first step to create turnover" after the slightest rule break.

That, however, is not the housing authority's intention, said Cindy Christensen, the authority's deputy director. The main goal is education and communication with residents, she said.

"We want people to come in and talk to us," Christensen said.

The exact amount of APCHA's funding shortfall won't be known until later and will be split with the city of Aspen, Peacock said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

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