Woman with significant assets begins legal fight to stay in affordable housing
A physician who owns numerous properties in Hawaii but lives in affordable housing at Aspen Highlands is in a legal battle to keep the local unit.The Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority filed suit to have the owner, Amanda Tucker, put the residence on the market in early March. She responded with a motion to dismiss the case on Monday. Now the Housing Authority has responded.”She hasn’t done anything to qualify for affordable housing,” said Tom McCabe, director of the housing authority. “It’s our belief that while this is going through, someone who does qualify isn’t getting in.”Tucker is living in a deed-restricted unit that she purchased for $179,410 during a foreclosure sale March 16, 2005. Her lawyer submitted a motion to dismiss the case by citing a Colorado State Supreme Court decision (Town of Telluride v. Lot Thirty-Four Venture LLC) that created a precedent against rent control. The motion to dismiss stated that she shouldn’t have to move out of the apartment because all rent control is illegal. “The whole scheme by which price controls and rent controls happen are suspect,” said John Case, Tucker’s attorney. “Would it have an effect on her unit? Absolutely. Would it have an effect on other units? Yes.”However, Case said he expects the district court to deny the motion. “I doubt that they would expand the definition of rent control to include this case,” he said. “The Supreme Court and the appellate court, I’m not so sure.”The motion to dismiss did not discuss the Housing Authority’s complaints. “Their reading of Telluride is way out of line,” said the Housing Authority’s lawyer, Thomas Smith. “They’re trying to get the case dismissed so she can continue to own the property.”For the unit she owns, there is a cap on yearly earnings of $91,000, and net assets cannot exceed $150,000. The Maui County assessor’s office values one of her properties in Hawaii at $1,378,500. Further, the owner must prove working status in Pitkin County by showing at least 1,500 hours worked in a year. Tucker did not meet the March 31, 2005, deadline for submitting a packet showing she met the guidelines for owning the residence. The Housing Authority alleges she continued to miss deadlines, but one office at the county may have gotten ahead of another because she was issued a deed for the property on June 6. The Housing Authority claims she submitted an incomplete application on May 18, missed deadlines on June 20 and July 6 and was issued three violations to establish her qualifications as a buyer.
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