Christensen named interim director of Housing Authority | AspenTimes.com

Christensen named interim director of Housing Authority

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Cindy Christensen, longtime operations manager for the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, has been named interim director of the agency.

She will take the helm of the housing office until a candidate is selected to succeed Housing Director Mary Roberts, who recently resigned from the post. Roberts’ last day on the job is Friday.

Christensen has been operations manager at the housing office since June 1992. She was one of several Housing Authority staffers who expressed interest in the interim director’s post, said Ed Sadler, assistant city manager.

The housing board agreed in an executive session last week to offer Christensen the temporary position. Her selection was announced to the housing office staff yesterday.

“She knows the place backward and forward,” Sadler said. “As far as keeping it running, there’s nobody better. I think the board felt that way, too.”

Christensen will receive a temporary pay hike while she takes on the director’s duties, said Sadler, who plans to discuss her expanded job description with the housing board next week.

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“I have some big shoes to fill,” said Christensen yesterday. “I think [Roberts] did a wonderful job, and I learned a lot from her.”

Sadler said he expects Christensen to remain in the post for the next five to six months, while the city and county sort out the future organization of the Housing Authority and the duties of the agency’s next director.

The structure of the Housing Authority has been up in the air of late, and a recently released strategic-housing plan, prepared by outside consultants, recommended the housing office be folded into city government. The consultants also recommended that the joint city/county housing board be disbanded.

If the Housing Authority continues to exist as a joint agency, whether or not it will continue to play a role in housing development remains an issue. That decision needs to be made before local governments begin advertising for a new housing director, Sadler said.

“Until we know how the housing office is going to be organized . how do you draw up a job description and tell people what you’re looking for?” he said. “If it [the job] is just administrative stuff, you’re probably not going to pay as much as if the director is going to be responsible for umpteen million dollars of construction.”

Roberts’ annual salary is $83,761.

The latest direction from the City Council and Pitkin County commissioners regarding oversight of the housing office gives the housing board the authority to select the next housing director.

“It’s still going to be their decision at this point – until I get told differently,” Sadler said.

The new, permanent housing director will apparently not be Christensen. Sadler told Housing Authority staffers not to apply for the interim post if they were interested in the permanent position. Sadler said he wanted to avoid the perception that the interim director would likely receive the permanent appointment, as that tends to scare off potential candidates for a post.

Christensen said the temporary promotion will give her a chance to try out the post in the event she wants to be considered for it at some point in the future.

“This will give me a chance to see if, down the line, I would want it,” she said.

During her stint as the acting director, Christensen said she hopes to see the Housing Authority begin the planning work necessary so that local government can begin construction of new affordable housing a year from now.

Christensen has worked for the city of Aspen since March 1990, when she took a post with the Community Development Department. Two years later, she began working in the housing office.

She currently resides in deed-restricted housing – at the Juan Street complex.