It’s time to rethink affordable housing
We’ve done an amazing job on affordable housing, but it is time to expand our approach to include more people on both ends of the economic scale while preserving the system and access we have.
I think the goal is to find more ways to spread the real estate wealth in Aspen among the locals in affordable housing and others who can’t afford free-market housing. It is to create a housing system that provides more opportunity for more people with less public and private subsidy. I agree we should be looking for more ways to get more people in the affordable-housing system, but what we historically ignore, and now that we have more than 2,000 employee units shouldn’t, is how to incentivize them to move up and eventually out of the system – because it benefits them. For every person who moves out, a unit is available for one to move in – without us having to build a new one.
Current affordable housing does not attract many locals who can’t afford free market because there is no real opportunity in that affordable-housing market to grow a real estate asset base for the individual. It is viewed as a way to live here and amass a fair “savings account” but not much more; we can do better by making Aspen real estate more accessible to locals looking for ways to be successful and make Aspen their home.
Our community would benefit greatly if we had a system designed to attract locals who want to share in the real estate wealth and see the affordable-housing system as a way to prosper, grow and thrive in Aspen. A system that will provide a means to attract our Aspen kids to stay in Aspen as they see an opportunity, not just a less expensive place to be housed.
Let’s find ways to expand the affordable-housing market to include some units that have less restrictive residency requirements and have more rental opportunities that people can leave to their kids and can improve all they want, to make the unit more valuable or personal at their risk. Build on the current affordable-housing system to create a real estate market for locals, not just “employee housing.”
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