Pitkin funds Garfield affordable housing
The Pitkin County commissioners pledged $500,000 this week for the development of affordable housing in Carbondale, in neighboring Garfield County. It’s the first time Pitkin County has committed funds to an affordable housing development outside its boundaries.”We do have an impact in Carbondale,” Commissioner Dorothea Farris said. “This is a way to address that impact.”Pitkin County’s support, which still must clear a second reading and vote Wednesday, comes in the form of a $450,000 loan and a $50,000 grant. Mountain Regional Housing Corp. has been visiting local governments in recent weeks to drum up subsidies for a 52-unit project, dubbed Keator Grove, that includes 36 single-family homes and 16 townhomes. The homes are planned for a 5.6-acre lot on the south side of Highway 133, just a few blocks from downtown Carbondale. The Garfield County commissioners rejected a request from the developer for $50,000 earlier this week, with commissioners complaining that the developer, Mountain Regional Housing Corp., was not actually providing affordable housing.In addition to Garfield County’s decision against funding the project, Mountain Regional Housing has run into resistance from the Aspen City Council and from Pitkin County Commissioner Jack Hatfield. “All good ideas are not sustainable, and this one is not,” Hatfield said.It remains unclear whether the city of Aspen will end up supporting the project. “This is way beyond our urban growth boundary,” Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud said, “and the goal of our housing program is to build affordable housing within Aspen or within the urban growth boundary. This doesn’t get the job done.”Klanderud noted there has been opposition to building housing as close as Burlingame and was surprised Carbondale would even be considered an option for Aspen funds. “The city of Aspen is still deliberating,” said Mountain Regional Housing Corp. spokeswoman Susan Shirley.”Garfield County has said ‘no thank you.’ I guess they haven’t seen a clear role for county funds in support of affordable housing.”Keator Grove is planned for the same parcel where in 1999 Carbondale voters rejected a larger affordable housing project that was designed exclusively for low-income residents. “The current project went through approvals with total support,” Shirley said. “It’s much less dense.”She said Keator Grove will be 100 percent resident-occupied, with no second-home owners. Every unit will have appreciation caps of between 3 and 5 percent. All of the units are limited to people making between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income, between $33,950 and $50,880, for a single person. Eight of the units will be deed-restricted so buyers must prove they earn 80 percent or less of the area median income. The fact that only eight of the units would be deed-restricted caused some concern among Pitkin County commissioners. “Who are we serving here?” Hatfield said. Commissioner Mick Ireland, however, said supporting this project might be similar to how Pitkin County supported the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority in the 1980s, taking a leadership position, spending money that was clearly benefiting residents of neighboring counties. Pitkin County’s and Aspen’s support was instrumental in building what is now the second largest transit system in the state, supported with taxes collected in six cities and towns and two counties.”Are we taking a leadership position, or are we just being saps?” Commissioner Michael Owsley asked.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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