APCHA by the numbers: Data system provides glimpse into Aspen’s affordable housing program
A majority of residents in deed-restricted housing close to retirement age
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s data tracking and online system has reached a critical mass of information since it was rolled out earlier this year, and it now provides a deep dive into the program for decision-makers to decide policy in the future.
Data collected within the $1.4 million HomeTrek system since its public roll out in February show the breadth and depth of who lives in the 3,122 units in the affordable-housing program’s inventory, what their income categories are, how many have roommates or dependents, and perhaps more importantly for officials is how many are close to retirement.
While APCHA requires people who live in deed-restricted units to work a minimum of 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County, current policy allows individuals to retire in their homes when they reach legal age.
Overall, 77.3% of people living in APCHA housing are younger than 65 and 22.7% are older than that.
But that could change soon based on the data collected by HomeTrek.
The largest group of people who live in APCHA housing, 26%, or 611 individuals, are between 50 and 59 years old.
Those between 60 and 69 years old make up 20.7%, or 484 people, living in deed-restricted housing, according to HomeTrek data.
Knowing exactly how many people living within APCHA are close to retirement age has been a question on officials’ minds in recent years as they plan for future housing, anticipating that a significant amount of units are lived in by people who will no longer be contributing to the local workforce.
“That is one question APCHA does get a lot, so it’s nice to be able to say ‘here’s is our breakdown of ownership ages right now,’” APCHA business analyst Andrew Miller said in a presentation to the housing authority’s board of directors last week.
APCHA board member and Aspen City Councilwoman Rachel Richards said future analysis of how long retired people live in their APCHA units will be helpful.
“How do we understand the retirement question better as opposed to anecdotal information?” she asked, noting that older Aspen residents often move to lower altitudes or to be near family. “Rather than look at the number of people who’ve worked in the community for a long time as somewhat liabilities in holding onto a unit, I’d like to reframe that a little to understand how many golden years they really get to spend here.”
According to HomeTrek’s data, 279 people between 70 and 79 years old live in APCHA units; 34 between 80 and 89 of age; and four over 90 years old.
The HomeTrek system has tracked purchase dates back to 1978, as well as the number of years people have owned units.
The majority of owners, almost 38% or 626 individuals, have owned their units less than 10 years, and nearly 32%, or 524 people, have owned between 10 and 19 years.
“The majority of our units have sold in the last 20 years,” Miller said during the Sept. 15 APCHA board meeting.
HomeTrek’s data breaks down how many bedrooms are in the inventory and who lives in the units, which determines how utilized or underutilized they are.
For example, there are 118 two-bedroom units that have one occupant and there are 110 three-bedroom units where two people are living there.
“This could be for a variety of reasons,” Miller said, noting that dependents or tenants could have moved out, a divorce or separation occurred, or at the time of the lottery to win a unit, eligibility allowed for it.
APCHA interim executive director and Assistant City Manager Diane Foster said the agency is working with its communications team to advertise and inform owners on how to rent a room in an effort to get more people housed.
The report is a high-level overview of general ownership and sales information that was gathered through the biennial 2021 ownership affidavit process and is relevant up until Sept. 13, according to Miller.
About 89% of all owners in the program have submitted their information in the HomeTrek system.
The report does not include rental information, which is intentional because APCHA intends to do a survey of all rental units through their owners in early 2022.
The report also does not include information on accessory dwelling units and caretaker units, as APCHA is currently working with the city’s and county’s community development departments to identify how many there are.
Prior to HomeTrek’s rollout, APCHA did not have a full account of all of its deed-restricted properties in the city and county because of its paper-based system.
The platform allows current residents of APCHA ownership and rental units, as well as those who are interested in applying or bidding on properties, the ability to do all business online rather than on paper. It also gives the public real time information data on all of the units in the inventory.
HomeTrek users complete their qualification applications online, submit interest for an available APCHA-managed rental unit, place a bid for lottery ownership units, and see the valuation of their ownership unit.
The concept is more than two years in the making and was originally launched by former APCHA executive director Mike Kosdrosky, who identified that the housing authority’s antiquated system was a disservice to the program.
Going from paper-based to automated is one of the biggest changes to the agency in decades.
Funded by real estate and sales taxes and developer fees, APCHA is one of the first workforce housing agencies in the country and the first in Colorado when it was established in the late 1970s.
APCHA now controls billions of dollars’ worth of real estate and without a system like HomeTrek, it did not have a robust way to track who owns what and who is living where.
APCHA board members last week praised the hard work of the agency’s staff members in getting HomeTrek launched, as well as dissecting the data into information that can be relatively understood.
“This informs everything we do,” APCHA board member and Aspen City Councilmember Skippy Mesirow said. “This is a big deal. … It takes us from mysticism to science, and this is going to completely change the way we are able to respond to the community.”
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