Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority tells woman she has to move
A longtime local woman is being forced to sell her deed-restricted apartment in Snowmass Village for breaking the rules of the affordable-housing program.
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board unanimously voted last week to uphold the notice of violation issued to Jamie Tredeaux, who has owned a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the Fairway III development on Owl Creek Road since 1998.
APCHA sent the notice last October informing her she was out of compliance with its guidelines, namely that she wasn’t living in the unit and owns a home in Redstone with her husband.
APCHA qualifications specialist Julie Kieffer said she prepared the notice after she got no response from three emails and a phone call to Tredeaux asking her to provide proof of residency and employment in Pitkin County.
“I try to do it the easy, friendly way first,” Kieffer said.
Tredeaux’s attorney said his client is innocent and APCHA is using Tredeaux as an example because the agency is under intense scrutiny.
“Jamie is not a bad-faith actor and she’s not trying to cheat the system,” said Aspen attorney Chris Bryan, who represented Tredeaux at last week’s hearing. “It’s chilling that someone who has been here so long is going to lose her house.”
Last year, there were 154 compliance cases, 112 of which were resolved and resulted in 16 sales units back in the inventory and 22 rental openings, according to Kieffer. There are 60 open compliance cases currently.
Tredeaux took a leave of absence from Dec. 1, 2015, through May 31, 2017, because she had gotten married and her husband lived in Hawaii. They were to live there for a year until he retired and moved to Redstone. Since last fall, she’s been staying at that house with her husband, Jack Lauer.
When Kieffer followed up on Tredeaux’s leave of absence status, it came to her attention that she was residing in Redstone.
In an emotional plea to the board, Tredeaux told housing officials that she was unable to stay in her Snowmass apartment because she had a broken foot, and stairs within the multi-level unit were unsafe. She also needed to be cared for. Her intention was to move back to Snowmass.
APCHA didn’t agree.
“We strongly question the validity of this excuse because her Redstone property has a steep flight of stairs,” reads a memo from Kieffer to the APCHA board. It also states that a foot injury is “not an acceptable reason for failing to live in her tax subsidized home.”
Tredeaux also told the board she has no interest or legal right to the Redstone property because Lauer has put it in a revocable living trust.
APCHA officials say that doesn’t matter. The guidelines state a person cannot own — either directly or through another member of their household — residential property in what’s called the Ownership Exclusion Zone.
Bryan said that rule didn’t exist in the 1997 guidelines when she bought her Snowmass unit. He told the board that the trust leaves the property to her husband’s children from another marriage. If something happened to her husband, Tredeaux would be homeless if the Fairway III home is taken from her.
“Jamie feels that evidence provided by APCHA was not accurate,” Bryan said. “She feels as though they cherry-picked and put her in the worst light.”
He asked the board to allow her to come back into compliance and cure the violation, and she would agree to some benchmarks to prove compliance.
APCHA also claims Tredeaux has not been working full-time in Pitkin County, which was discovered in the course of Kieffer’s investigation.
Last fall, four of Tredeaux’s neighbors in Snowmass reported to APCHA that she hasn’t lived in the unit for years, citing evidence suggesting it was empty.
Tredeaux must list her unit by March 21. The sale price is currently $215,365; she bought it for $145,571 two decades ago.
Bryan said his client is considering her options, which includes litigation.
APCHA Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky said the situation is unfortunate, but there is no room in the program for people to not be living in their units.
“We are not trying to be punitive, we are trying to protect the program,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of unlimited resources and units, so we have a duty to make sure that people are complying with the rules.”
There’s approval to hire a full-time compliance officer; Kieffer also handles qualifications of renters and owners. The position is aimed at upping enforcement across the nearly 3,000 units under APCHA’s jurisdiction.
The most common complaints are people not living in the unit or they own other property, are renting out the unit or the room, or not working.
“It happens more than you think,” Kosdrosky said. “When we can enforce we do, and it is complaint-based. We are somewhat at the mercy of the public. In this case, I applaud the public in helping us enforce the rules.”
A streambank stabilization project on the Crystal River just west of Marble is on hold after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the work undertaken this past summer fell outside what is allowed by the project’s permit.
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