Letter: Private-sector affordable housing | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Private-sector affordable housing

The purpose of this communique is to invite your participation in an affordable-housing project in New Castle — approximately 300 units in seven phases.

The lack of affordable housing is the most serious threat to the Roaring Fork Valley economy and the unsurpassed lifestyle we enjoy.

I have wrestled with the affordable-housing problem for 40 years as an employer, an affordable-housing project owner, a planner and now a developer. The unfortunate fact is that there is virtually no affordable housing available in the Roaring Fork Valley. My research indicates that two-bedroom dwellings priced above $300,000 and renting above $1,200 to $1,300 per month are not affordable for most valley employees. This project delivers pricing below these limits. They are, in fact, below the prices for most appreciation-capped units controlled by the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, which currently has no units available for rent or sale.

Developing private affordable housing in the Roaring Fork Valley is infeasible due to high land and construction costs, political resistance to growth and a general abhorrence to high densities. The housing predicament presents a real threat to the local economy and a serious dilemma for employees, employers and valley municipalities; the situation is simply not sustainable. Appreciation-capped affordable housing is a partial though inequitable solution to the problem due to public policies that limit equity to maintain affordability. Most households depend on home appreciation as the major portion of net worth and the primary source for retirement income. Withholding this substantial benefit denies commensurate sharing in the economic success of the region. In addition, appreciation caps preclude affordable-housing owners’ participation in the valley’s most valuable asset — real estate. This is a woefully inadequate reward for the working people who are so essential to the local economy.

The project presented here is a private-sector means to address the problem. Affordability here is made possible by low land cost, savings via proximity to construction resources, community acceptance (including high density), an excellent mass-transit system and easy access when the Highway 82/Interstate 70 interchange in Glenwood is completed, which coincides with completion of the project’s first phase. If you are interested in participating in a private-sector project that addresses a critical community need and also delivers a robust return on investment, please contact me for details at donensign@comcast.net or 970-948-8222.

Don Ensign

Glenwood Springs

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