Mayoral contenders on Aspen’s affordable housing |

Mayoral contenders on Aspen’s affordable housing

This is the fourth installment of a five-part series profiling the four candidates for mayor ” LJ Erspamer, incumbent Mick Ireland, Andrew Kole and Marilyn Marks ” in their own words. This feature will run through Friday.

Next week, The Aspen Times will focus on the City Council candidates, who will be asked the same questions that are being posed to the mayoral contestants. Today’s question: What, if anything, needs to be changed to the city’s affordable housing program?

Responsible employee housing must be aggressively pursued and monitored to avoid any question of integrity from the past misguided “build-at-any-cost” approach.

We must be spendthrift, transparent and accountable with ongoing efforts to provide additional employee housing that will attain a measurable quantity to meet our future needs. The process of the employee housing programs must be reviewed and adjusted to maintain solvency and reliability.

We also need to research other ideas, such as purchasing older free-market homes and deed restricting them to R.O.

This calculated and accountable approach will provide more housing for the money.

We have implemented the recommendations of the two independent audits and the Citizen Budget Task Force, resulting in changes to the way the housing program’s budgeting and accounting is managed. If elected, I will make sure those changes are fully implemented.

We also need to bring in partners as we plan for Burlingame Phase II. We are already talking to the Music Associates, the hospital, the school district and the county about having those groups buy and build part of Burlingame at the actual cost of land, infrastructure and buildings.

The housing program is stuck in the past and requires a more progressive philosophy. It’s time to quit resting on our now-tarnished laurels for having a “leading AH program” and to start leading again.

– Recruit private-sector developers to build deed-restricted housing during the recession.

– Create a quasi-free-market/R.O. program which gives AH homeowners an incentive for maintenance and value escalation of well-maintained properties.

– Incentivize private development of affordable rental housing.

– Stop avoiding the capital reserves deficit issue, and create a resolution fair to owners and taxpayers.

– Acknowledge financial demise of the housing fund, and create alternative strategies to avoid paralyzing the housing program.

Money ” we need money! Currently land-rich but cash-poor, the affordable housing program is a mess in many ways. The biggest problem on the horizon is that 95 percent of our affordable housing stock lacks a proper capital reserve program. If you think of capital reserves like insurance (nobody likes paying for it until you get hit by a bus), then think of our aging housing stock as being “crushed” by a bus. The good news is, I think there are a number of avenues a creative council can take to minimize the impact of this problem on those living in affordable housing.

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