“Fear and Loathing” in Old Ute City
August 10, 2018
Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority exercises Vladimir Putin-like dictatorial powers over tenants and homeowners alike. The recent proposal to levy serious fines on our many housing scofflaws smacks of the twisted logic pervasive inside APCHA. Most of us in the affordable-housing program are so frightened of the 800-pound gorilla that is APCHA that we are even reluctant to respond to their surveys. They seemingly have the power to evict or force the sale of a unit for insignificant infractions. APCHA will tell you it isn't so but there are numerous cases occurring.
They claim there is a process in place for appeal but the reality is they are judge, jury and executioner in one. Let's face it comrades, we are glorified renters with a tax benefit or slum dwellers here in old Ute City. Renters are so frightened that they will lose their hard-won units that they won't even show up to public gatherings sponsored by APCHA. Long-term affordable owners are grumbling about not gaining ground in the valley housing market due to artificially low appreciation caps on the units. Retiring owners and tenants have no place to go which was one of the original tenets of the housing program. When a homeowner feels he doesn't have the rights and benefits of ownership then naturally he won't commit the resources into the responsibility of upkeep. I mean APCHA prequalifying "choosing" a homeowner's roommate? No wonder there is a serious shortfall in capital reserves, a problem with delinquent dues and an inventory of dilapidated buildings that APCHA is sitting on.
The real question we should be asking is what should the affordable-housing program be? Do we want an APCHA that effectively is the slum lord of Aspen with absolute power of embattled tenants who end up leaving Aspen after a short time or do we want to update our housing policies to reflect current realities in the valley and forge a community in this place we love to call home? I am calling for a community referendum on the direction of the housing authority.