Time to rethink affordable housing program
I am a huge fan of what we have done with the affordable housing (AH) program. However, I believe now with 2,808 units for employees in place it is time to reassess the program, its goals and resources.
This program was created in the ’70s to save our community, not just house employees for employers. Two-thousand, eight-hundred and eight units translates into 5,000-plus employees (1.8 employee/unit average, NI kids and non-working adults) now living in AH. The population of Aspen is 5,900 (2008 census update). Seventy-five percent (plus or minus) of the people who live here live in deed-restricted housing (not all affordable housing units are in the city).
The stated goal of the housing program is to have 60 percent of our employees live in the Aspen area. Translation: Add 4,000 more employees in 2,444 more affordable housing units for a total of 9,000 employees living in 5,252 employee units here. I think this goal needs to be debated again, but if the numbers stay the same some large number of these units should be sculpted to the “middle” and many specifically for current affordable housing owners to move up into.
Anyone in affordable housing now would be well served by adding the middle because, 1) it gives affordable housing owners more, and better options, 2) they would have an opportunity and incentive (but no requirement) to move up, freeing units up in the affordable housing system, 3) once in the middle market it would permit them freedom with their homes (size and finish) they don’t have now, 4) it provides the opportunity to move up the real estate ladder by either improving your living conditions, home value or both, 5) it will add less “category” units to the employee market, making your affordable housing unit easier to sell. If we don’t add the middle how easy will it be to sell your employee unit when there are twice as many and at least half of them are newer than yours and no one buying in will have a chance to move out? 6) adding a way out of employee housing will increase the demand for your unit.
This is housing for our community, it is housing for you – for us. The middle is not just for affordable housing owners, but that is for other letters. In housing, I think our best days are ahead of us, all of us.
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