Aspen officials debate in-APCHA priorities |

Aspen officials debate in-APCHA priorities

City of Aspen and Pitkin County officials debated the merits Tuesday of giving priority to existing affordable-housing owners looking to move into different-sized units over applicants outside the program.

In February, the Aspen City Council and Pitkin County commissioners discussed the prospect of giving those who live in affordable housing priority while moving within the program. It’s among the changes the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority has proposed that could receive an official vote as early as May.

During a joint work session Tuesday, Commissioner George Newman posed the argument that while the change would allow for existing owners to more easily shuffle around, it might make it more difficult for those struggling to get into the program in the first place.

“It is frustrating,” housing operations manager Cindy Christensen said. “It does tell you the need for our housing when we still have people out there who have been in our lottery system for 10, 15 years and still have not won something.”

However, Christensen pointed out that with the proposed change, when an in-program owner moves, their unit becomes available.

“That would be one of the arguments we would make,” housing director Michael Kosdrosky said. “If they were to move from one complex to another, it would free up that unit for somebody potentially in the lottery.”

Commissioner Rachel Richards said Tuesday that she appreciated that the housing authority addressed previous concerns over allowing lateral moves within the new framework. Though she said she would support seeing some form of the changes discussed moving forward, it still needs work.

“How many times do you have to get lucky?” Richards asked. “If you’re in a one-bedroom and bursting at the seams and you’ve got a wife now and want to have a baby, do you have to wait to get lucky again?”

She added there are drawbacks to the changes, but she’s willing to see it refined and supported.

Mayor Steve Skadron said the changes add pressure to the existing unit being sought and create a disadvantage for those looking to win the lottery. Because the housing program is extraordinarily complicated, Skadron said adding another level of complication concerns him.

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