Letter: Housing program needs more incentives
Kudos to city and county officials for recognizing that the affordable-housing program is outdated and in need of an overhaul.
It will be interesting to see where our elected officials take this, but to me the overhaul should start with the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority mission statement, which in part says the goal is “to provide affordable-housing opportunities … to persons who are or have been actively employed.”
I believe we have evolved from just providing housing for employers’ workforce to providing housing for the community. The community that cannot afford to live here. The community that watches the free-market values go up and up, leaving them further and further behind.
I believe the mission statement should be amended to include opportunity for every “Aspenite” who cannot afford the free market. We should be enhancing the entry level to affordable housing and the link between affordable housing and the free market. I say the affordable-housing program should be about building community in every different way possible. Find ways to encourage people to deed-restrict free-market units to resident-occupied units. Find ways to incentivize those empty-nest retirees living in “family affordable housing” to move into affordable-housing units they want to own, freeing up family units for families. Find ways for those who buy into affordable housing to be able to move up, and back down, the real estate ladder as they choose. Find ways to keep our best and brightest Aspen kids from moving away for the career they can’t find here (by using their affordable-housing real estate investment to provide a leg up to the final goal).
I believe in personal freedom, incentive and reward. Find ways not only to use affordable housing to house employees but to give those employees and residents more freedoms, stronger incentives and greater rewards. The spread between free-market and affordable housing has left us with a glass ceiling in the real estate market — use this overhaul to smash that glass ceiling and make our community stronger, happier and more diverse.
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