Housing director steps out of spotlight
August 2, 2005
Local Housing Director Maureen Dobson hasn’t taken a new job, but her partner has.The head of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority will step down, effective Oct. 14, after three years at the helm of a government agency that is often in the spotlight – both here and elsewhere.Dobson took over as housing director in July 2002; her partner, Ola Lau, has been working on temporary assignment in the city Finance Department. “It was kind of a shock to us,” Dobson said Tuesday. “Basically, Ola was offered a really great job in Boulder. We both kind of had to weigh the pros and cons. It’s a great opportunity, no doubt.”
The housing post will be advertised quickly in hopes of finding Dobson’s successor before she leaves, according to Steve Barwick, city manager.”She gave us lots of notice, so we’ll start recruiting right away and hopefully have some chance for overlap,” he said.The salary range for the housing director’s job is $62,525 to $86,278.The director oversees the management of the deed-restricted housing set aside for local employees – an inventory of more than 2,000 ownership and rental units. The job was restructured just before Dobson succeeded Mary Roberts in the post and the actual development of worker housing was removed from the housing authority’s purview as part of that reorganization.
Still, Dobson has overseen an office that stepped up rules enforcement in the housing program, loosened government’s acceptance of pets in worker housing and handled the shocking events of last March, when a tenant facing eviction from an apartment attempted to burn down the complex before he hung himself in his unit.”I think it was a huge surprise to everyone involved in that situation,” Dobson said. “After the fact, no one saw that coming.”Still to come is the housing authority’s sale of the Woody Creek Trailer Park to the homeowners there, a plan that has long been in the works.The local housing program is often in the spotlight locally, whether it’s the city’s development of the controversial Burlingame Ranch or the housing authority’s efforts to ferret out violations. But other communities look often toward Aspen/Pitkin County’s program as a model, Dobson said.
The calls come from as close as other Colorado ski resorts to places as far flung as Denmark, she said.”The good news is, this is a model program nationally and we get calls daily from people looking for advice,” she said. “We’ve been there, done that.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org