Lumberyard an ideal location to house Aspen’s essential workers

The affordable housing program (initially labeled “employee housing”) has accomplished building over 3,000 units, roughly supporting a housing base equal to the population of Aspen when the program was established in 1974.

Although widely acclaimed for its futuristic vision, the problems that existed in 1974 have only exacerbated without solving our essential-need housing for teachers, nurses, doctors, police, day care, firemen, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority employees, city and county workers, etc. All of these community essential-need entities cannot recruit or retain these valuable employees for our community because Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority requires four years of employment in order to apply for the lottery system in place. The cost of a down payment and the lack of employment history to qualify for a home mortgage is another deterrent for some of these professionals.

With this in mind, I would suggest the proposed Lumberyard housing project of 277 units be classified for essential-needs/rental housing where our schools, hospital, fire and police departments, etc. would own the units and assign an attractive rental rate for their employees to live in and to serve our community. History illustrates we cannot simply build our way out of the problems our community suffers from. It’s time for Aspen City Council to hit the pause button on this failed affordable housing experiment and become more focused on the essential needs every community has, starting at the Lumberyard.

Tom Melberg

Woody Creek