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Cooney: Criticism from the cheap seats

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

I’m assuming Elizabeth Milias started with modest means, paid off her student loans by working many jobs, lived four to a studio, saving and scrimping, before finally purchasing her four-bedroom, four-bath Aspen home. 

So, why does she have such a bourgeoisie view of the Aspen proletariat and such an ax to grind with the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority? Newer arrivals often become gadflies and build a cottage industry out of criticizing local government, while others appreciate the brave people who run for public office, volunteer for committees, work law enforcement — those who try to make progress through criticism from the cheap seats. 

Before her, the original concept of APCHA was to build affordable home ownership for three income levels of qualifying residents to root in the trending-unaffordable community. All were considered “essential workers,” even entrepreneurs. The idea was to help some transition into the free-market, when that concept was still feasible. This included owning property outside of Pitkin County.



But, since Range Rover refugees, high-rent-no-problem remote “workers,” and whimsical billionaires have bid everything up, the formula doesn’t work anymore. 

And, it doesn’t help to harp manipulative euphemisms like “subsidized housing” instead of “affordable housing.” This uses freighted words to dog whistle sheltered Zip Code prejudices.




Yes, APCHA rules should be enforced. But, in Elizabeth’s world, because some affordable-housing owners loop-holed the system, all those who bought in earlier are undeserving suspects if they accrued unmonitored transitional assets while there. Further, she advocates that community-building home ownership should be replaced with rental units inhabited solely by “essential workers” — only through their working shelf life with no right to improve their financial lot. 

That formula works well in Singapore, Dubai, and Qatar, where migrant workers live and die in dormitories while servicing the needs of the idle and re-imagined Ayn Rand industrialists.

Tim Cooney

Aspen