Quality, not quantity
I have been following the response letters to the editor in regard to Tim Semrau’s idea to allow the owner’s of employee housing to receive a slightly greater appreciation rate and to also recover costs associated with tangible improvements to an employee unit. The primary objections to Tim’s ideas seem to be that the housing “rules” that govern our employee housing stock were made years ago and it would not be right to change them now, along with the associated costs of funding the plan depleting our housing fund.
The issue I have with the first objection is that the times really have changed. And what was originally designed as a vehicle to provide starter housing stock has now become life-long permanent housing ” once in the door of employee housing, the reality is that for almost all, there is no way out unless you leave the valley (average single family home price of $5.5 million in Aspen). Our pool of employee housing now serves a dual purpose for the majority of its residents, serving as a retirement resource (as is typical in the rest of the country), and at the same time, providing an acceptable place to reside. The current rules, appreciation cap and capital improvement restrictions severely limit achieving traditional permanent housing goals and the physical improvement for ownership employee housing base.
As far as the depletion of the housing fund, nothing ventured nothing gained. I would challenge our local governments with the task of getting these tax dollars out the door and used. If government can’t accomplish this, then stop the tax. If the fund is active and running short, then raise the housing tax; our soft costs like this have not dampened the volume of real estate activity in the upper valley to date.
After all, this is one of the best places to live in the world.
Using the housing fund for this purpose could be further managed downward by implementing a tiered structure of appreciation (i.e. 5 percent for categories 1 to 3, 4 percent for category 4, and 3 percent for RO).
In my opinion, it is not just about the quantity of employee housing we produce or have, but also about its quality, diversity, the life experience it provides and the ability to provide some of the retirement benefits that home ownership has typically come to represent in the rest of the country.
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