Aspen housing authority adopts confidentiality policy after mistakenly releasing man’s personal information
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board passed a resolution Wednesday that sets a confidentiality policy on releasing personal information of those who live in the agency’s 3,000 units.
The policy, which was approved unanimously, is in response to APCHA posting a local man’s personal and financial information on the internet.
Three years’ worth of tax returns, a form listing assets and liabilities, a bank balance, paystubs, W-2s, and an identifiable social security number belonging to Joey Vernier was included in a November APCHA board agenda packet for a compliance hearing regarding his mother, Julie Vernier.
APCHA apologized at the time, saying it was a mistake and removed it immediately.
Typically a person’s financial information, which is required to qualify for a unit, remains confidential with APCHA.
The policy passed Wednesday solidifies that practice and lists protocols for when confidential information is used illegally or unethically.
Confidential information includes Social Security and taxpayer identification numbers; driver’s license and passport numbers; bank account numbers; medical information; and PIN codes, among others.
But as the policy states, if a person finds himself or herself in violation of working the required 1,500 hours in Pitkin County and is appealing a decision, income information like tax returns can enter the public realm.
Only staff and board members, along with APCHA’s attorney, will have access to a complaint or investigative file on a need-to-know basis if it’s necessary.
When confidential information is disclosed, sensitive information including Social Security numbers will be redacted. That also is the case if information has to be released under the Colorado Open Records Act.
If there is a breach, it must be reported to APCHA department heads and the city’s human resources department, who will taken action if necessary.
APCHA holds confidential information, which is all paper-based, in locked filing cabinets.
When documents are authorized to be deleted or destroyed, they will be shredded.
Once APCHA goes to its electronic data system, files will be deleted.
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