Summit ponders financial partnership to get its teachers into housing
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
FRISCO, Colo. ” The Summit School District could become a financial partner with its employees to provide them with housing.
The district would be the “rich, silent grandmother” who is not a landlord, but makes it possible for teachers to afford a home and stay in the community, explained Karen Strakbein, assistant superintendent of business services.
“Basically, it is asking our taxpayers to support housing for our employees,” she said.
At a recent Summit School Board meeting, Todd Snidow and Guy Yandel of the George K. Baum investment banking firm discussed the concept. In order to make it happen, four sections of Colorado statute that aren’t normally related would come together, said Yandel.
“This has never been done before,” he added.
Yandel described a shared-equity approach in which the district raises funds for property purchases through a bond election.
The intent would be to reduce the mortgage payment to a level that makes a home affordable for an employee based on income, Strakbein said. For example, if a family could afford $150,000, but a home costs $300,000, the district would contribute the half needed to make it affordable. The district would own the land as legal protection and yet-to-be established guidelines would determine who would be eligible for what home.
“We’ve created an affordable house by partnering with them, but we won’t be on the mortgage,” Strakbein said.
A similar approach is possible with condos and townhomes, even though no land purchase is involved, Yandel said.
The push to look at options for teacher housing comes from a survey the district conducted last spring. Results indicated about 30 percent of employees are not satisfied with their current housing situation. More than 50 percent said they may be interested or were very interested in housing options.
The survey also indicated, in the next five to 10 years, 17 percent of the district’s employees will retire and another 12 percent have plans to leave the county.
The district does not have the financial ability to partner with the Summit Housing Authority, Strakbein said, but teachers contribute to the need the housing authority sees.
While some school board members voiced concern about going to the voters and about how the community would feel about a housing program aimed just at district staffers, they agreed it is something the school district should continue to explore.
Board treasurer Sheila Groneman said she is concerned about how the community will feel because affordable housing is a communitywide issue.
Other board members said they believe voters could be wary of another ballot item.
“We know we’re wearing our voters out,” said board president Christine Scanlan.
Strakbein told the board members, “Know that at any point ,you can stop this.”
“We have between now and August to work out details if you’re going to the voters.”
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