Aspen City Council to consider fines for rule breakers in housing program |

Aspen City Council to consider fines for rule breakers in housing program

Aspen’s elected officials will consider tonight changes to the local housing program, which include instituting fines as high as $5,000 for those who break the rules.

As part of a “call-up” process, Aspen City Council is reviewing a recommendation made by the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board last fall.

A majority of the board agreed to institute fines for people who ignore the rules of the program, whether it’s failing to re-qualify for a rental unit or a more egregious infraction like a homeowner renting to a nonqualified resident.

Housing officials have said in the past that steep fines are meant to deter individuals from breaking the affordable-housing rules. And with enough education, it should be clear to people how they can comply with the rules and not get to a level that brings fines.

“It is said that perception becomes reality, and unfortunately the public’s perception is that fraud, abuse and noncompliance are serious concerns for the APCHA program, which policy makers should address,” APCHA executive director Mike Kosdrosky wrote in a memo to council. “In August 2018, APCHA hired a full-time compliance manager.

“However, without adequate enforcement measures or penalties in place to guarantee compliance, APCHA is severely limited in obtaining voluntary compliance from the various program participants (owners, renters, landlords, property managers and businesses).”

The fines range from $250 for a “stage 1” violation up to $5,000 for a “stage 5” violation.

Revenue from the fines would be used for the cost of a hearing officer, a contract position that the APCHA board also is recommending to council.