Homesteading next step for lottery winners |

Homesteading next step for lottery winners

Chad Abraham
Carlos Garcia, left, a 13-year resident of Pitkin County, looks for his name on a list of affordable housing lottery winners Monday outside the Pitkin County Housing Authority. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

Carlos Garcia was all smiles Monday.His name, along with 38 others, was highlighted in yellow on a list at the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority office. The streak of color meant Garcia, an Aspen resident who works at City Market, was a winner in the affordable housing lottery for the Annie Mitchell Homestead development, also known as Parcel D.Two computerized drawings were held yesterday, one for 25 units priced at $89,200, the other for 14 units priced at $137,000. Nearly 100 people entered the lotteries, some in both.Garcia, 30, has been working in Aspen for 13 years. He said getting into the drawings wasn’t hard. Affordable housing lotteries are open to people who work in Pitkin County and meet a number of other qualifications.

“If you have all your income taxes for the years you’ve worked in the county, it’s easy,” Garcia said. Try telling that to Linda Gerdenich. The city of Aspen’s director of community relations came up short Monday – again. The eight-year Aspen resident said she enters every housing lottery possible, but yesterday she couldn’t have had worse luck: She ended up 93rd on the list, or dead last. “Isn’t that an exciting place to be,” Gerdenich said with a sarcastic laugh.She said in past drawings in which only one home was available, she’s been as high as 12th. “I thought that was pretty good, so to go from as high as 12 to 93 is not really that exciting.”But it wasn’t all sour grapes for Gerdenich, who praised the affordable housing lotteries.

“It’s a fabulous program,” she said. “I have no regrets. You can’t get discouraged in a situation like this.”We’re just very fortunate that the [city and county] have an opportunity like this to house people, especially up in Aspen.”While Gerdenich was lamenting her luck, some people couldn’t miss. George Bright and Art Nerbonne each entered both drawings – and both won in both categories. Now they’ll have to choose between a more expensive Category 3 unit or a Category 2 unit. Whichever units they don’t take will be offered to the next people on the lottery list – those who came up just short of the winners’ circle.So could there be a conspiracy afoot? Hardly, said Cindy Christensen, housing operations manager. Residents’ chances of winning increase the longer they have worked in the county, but other than that the lotteries are “totally random,” she said.

“Everybody who’s working full time [in Pitkin County] qualifies to purchase our housing,” she said. “It’s just that we have a priority system now.”Annie Mitchell Homestead, a city-funded development, should be ready for occupants in a few weeks. Christensen said a final decision on monthly dues will be left up to the homeowners’ association.”When the homeowners’ association meets, they can decide on how much they want to do. It’ll be up to them to decide whether they want to do their own snow shoveling, hire a property manager or a couple of other things themselves,” she said. “What they decide to do is going to either cost them more or less in their homeowners’ dues. We want them to make that decision.”Those are decisions the new homeowners will be all too happy to make.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is