Aspen, Pitkin County tweak affordable housing guidelines
ASPEN – Future residents of affordable housing will have stricter guidelines to follow in proving they are legally allowed to live in deed-restricted units.
The Aspen City Council and the Pitkin County commissioners agreed Tuesday to several changes in the housing authority’s guidelines, including directing city officials to find a way to randomly audit residents without intruding too much into their private lives.
Some council members and commissioners were hesitant in approving a proposed change that would require residents to provide documentation that proves their residency in the unit, that they work full time, and that they don’t own other property in the Roaring Fork Valley or off the Interstate 70 corridor from Rifle to No Name in Glenwood Canyon.
That documentation was proposed to be tax returns, W2 forms and paycheck stubs. Up to 100 households would be randomly selected in the first year, and 50 in subsequent years.
However, some elected officials say asking for full tax returns is too intrusive and only asking for certain parts of them is more appropriate.
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority had previously required residents to provide full tax returns to determine whether they owned property elsewhere. But after someone complained, the council and county commissioners directed officials to stop requiring tax returns.
Commissioner Mike Owsley said one way to handle it is to have affordable housing residents sign a sworn affidavit.
The council and commissioners gave housing officials discretion to look into the backgrounds of potential affordable housing residents who may have had troubles in the past, such as non-payment of rent or domestic abuse.
But before either government body signs off on the change, elected officials want a list of circumstances on which residents will be judged so it doesn’t appear that people are being denied housing arbitrarily.
The council and commissioners also agreed to changing the guidelines so that if someone has provided false documentation, the household will be disqualified from entering in anymore housing lotteries. They also would be required to sell their unit and pay an additional 2 percent sales fee, which would go into the housing authority’s legal fund.
Elected officials were receptive to allowing a parent to transfer the ownership of a deed-restricted unit to a qualified adult child, but details, such as whether the size of the condo or apartment is appropriate, need to be sorted out before final approval.
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