Eagle County to hold affordable housing forum in El Jebel

Staff report

Residents of the middle Roaring Fork Valley are invited to participate in a community conversation about affordable housing hosted by the Eagle County commissioners.

The forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Eagle County office building adjacent to Crown Mountain Park. It will start with a dinner at 5:30 and feature a panel presentation and group discussion from 6 to 8.

The panelists will be from Aspen Skiing Co., Community Builders, the Summit Combined Housing Authority and the Eagle County Housing Department. An Eagle County commissioner will facilitate the meeting.

Future community conversations will be held on climate change and early childhood development.

“The community conversations are intended to engage residents, business owners and partners in discussions with elected officials, expert panelists and each other on topics critical to the region,” Eagle County said in a statement.

The county government also submitted an opinion piece to The Aspen Times that dived deeper into the problems facing Eagle County on the housing front.

“Rental units are 99 percent occupied. County-owned housing units for low-income families and seniors have a wait list of two to four years,” the county said. “The median home price has increased 17 percent over the past 21/2 years to $586,250. This is out of reach for many who could afford to buy on the Front Range — our workforce competitor — or in other areas.”

Thursday’s meeting is intended to engage residents and business owners in a discussion with elected officials, expert panelists and one another on housing.

“We want to discuss sustainable solutions and how large a role residents expect the county to play,” the county said. “For example, neighboring counties have a revenue stream in the form of a sales tax or transfer tax, which allows them to buy and bank land. Is this model right for Eagle County or should we primarily leave the issue to employers? Can developers, who are required to provide a certain level of affordable units, make the numbers pencil out on their own given the high cost of land? These are questions we would like to discuss.”

Each conversation will be held in the Roaring Fork Valley and the Eagle Valley. Basalt, El Jebel and portions of the Fryingpan Valley and Missouri Heights are in Eagle County.

The first housing conversation attracted about 75 people to a meeting last week in Edwards.

The event in El Jebel is free, but RSVPs are requested by Sunday. To respond, call 970-328-8605 or email