City Council: Make Snyder affordable
The Aspen City Council added to the uncertainty hanging over theSnyder affordable housing project by asking Monday that the pricingof the units be changed.As it now stands, the 15 units at the project in Aspen’s eastend will be sold to people who earn between $104,000 and $127,000.That, the council members say, goes against everything the housingprogram stands for.The council asked Housing Director Dave Tolen Monday to come upwith a proposal that would diversify the pricing of the units.Presently, all the units are Category 4, the highest- priced unitsin the affordable housing program. “I see a real rift being created in sending all the average workersto live downvalley,” said council member Terry Paulson. “Thereare only so many managers who make $50,000 or $100,000 a year.What about the rest of us?”As proposed, Snyder consists of nine one-bedroom apartments pricedat $150,000 and six three-bedroom units for $190,000. In the currentbudget all the units would be publicly subsidized by 50 percent.As a way to offset the cost of adding a greater mix of lower categoryunits, council member Jim Markalunas proposed creating a slidingsubsidy scale. For example, a single employee in Category 1 housing (with a maximumincome of $25,000) would receive a larger subsidy than a singleemployee who qualified for Category 4 housing (with an incomecap of $104,540 for those who have no dependents).”My concern is that we’re subsidizing up to half for an incomecategory that may be able to pay more,” Markalunas said. “Perhapssubsidy level should be based on the ability to pay so that Category1 and 2 units can be subsidized more.”Staff at the housing office have been directed to hash out severalscenarios for the Snyder project before a March 8 meeting withthe council. And the council demanded a better planned, more comprehensivepresentation the next time around. Mayor John Bennett ended Monday’spresentation when it became clear Tolen and staff member Lee Novakwere unprepared to explain the project’s budget.As a member of both City Council and the Housing Board, RachelRichards said she sympathizes with the distraction day-to-dayresponsibilities pose on the Housing Authority. But that doesn’texcuse housing staffers from “not giving projects the attentionthey deserve as the priority they are,” she said. “They have to have the facts in a row – verified and understandable,”Richards said. “By the time they’re presenting final budgets,they’ve already done 99 percent of the work and to flub the presentationis not good. … What they’re doing is so important they haveto come up to a higher caliber.”
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