Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority drifting away from original mission
December 14, 2017
I thought I would never say this, but I have to agree with Mick Ireland. I feel for the first time in 38-plus years of living and working in this community … unwelcome.
I mean, asking "retirees" if they would "volunteer" to downsize into a unit that doesn't exist? Hoping we would leave our units while only experiencing 3 percent annual appreciation leaving us with no viable options. Really?
It now appears we have an institutional problem. Rachel Richards and Mick Ireland, both long-term citizens of Aspen, are correct in their concern for the direction Mr. Kosdrosky would like to take the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority. His preference for calling the program "workforce housing" implies what many consider an existential change for the Housing Authority.
If we consider the implications for a moment, we can prognosticate the direction our town will take. If we are building housing for the "worker population" and forsaking ownership units, then we are saying we don't care about a long-term, viable community.
Rental units will never promote stability in populations. It is a proven fact that rental units do not encourage saving for the future, which is near impossible in this town. I wonder if anyone over at the Housing Authority has studied the length of residency of the average rental tenant, versus the length of ownership residency in APCHA housing. I would be willing to bet that rental units see far more turnover than ownership units. The more stable long-term homeowners contribute to the community in many ways.
Dallas Blaney's point, while concerning, does not address the fact that without incentive to own property, the maintenance costs of rental properties will be much higher and renters have even less means to maintain their units than owners ("Aspen affordable home ownership not always feasible," letters, Dec. 11, The Aspen Times). Who pays for that? Mick is right that a workforce that is locked in a "rental cycle" would not create the community that was envisioned back when the APCHA was created. We appear to be diverging from the original mandate of APCHA and serious discussion is required of our community.
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