Aspen housing board lets man suffering from PTSD stay in home
In a somewhat unusual move, the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority voted this week to allow a man to stay in his home even though he has violated a key rule attached to his unit’s deed restriction.
APCHA staff recommended to the board that Bruce Nethery sell his unit at Benedict Commons in downtown Aspen because he hasn’t worked most of this year.
That is a violation of the housing guidelines that require people who live in deed-restricted units to work a minimum of 1,500 hours a year.
APCHA received a complaint this past summer that Nethery wasn’t working and had an unqualified roommate living in his unit. He was then served a notice of violation Aug. 28, saying that he must list his unit for sale and that his appreciation stopped with a max value of $213,686.
“If you fail to respond by 5 p.m. on Sept. 12, APCHA will have no choice but to refer this matter to legal counsel,” reads the notice signed by Bethany Spitz, APCHA’s compliance manager.
It wasn’t until more than two weeks later that Nethery responded with a letter explaining that he was diagnosed with PTSD after a traffic accident a few years ago and had a relapse in January.
Nethery appealed the notice of violation to the APCHA board. On Wednesday, he told the board that he can only sleep a few hours a day and hasn’t been able to hold down or find a job. However, he recently landed one at Ace Hardware.
He asked that the board make an exception and allow him to stay in the condo he has owned for 22 years. Nethery said he wants to work and never intended to violate APCHA’s rules.
“What I contracted I did not expect,” he said, adding he has been applying for jobs all year but his disability is a barrier. “The way it came to me is a shocker and an embarrassment.
“It’s not like I’m going to Acapulco. … I’d rather not lose my home,” he continued. “I’m not sitting around because I like daytime TV.”
APCHA Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky said while the organization wants to work with people who are in deed-restricted units, they need to comply with the rules.
“The message to the public is you must let us know immediately that there is a change in their circumstance,” he said, adding Nethery didn’t notify APCHA that he wasn’t working.
The board opted not to follow staff’s recommendation and allow Nethery stay in his condo as long as he provide 12 months of consecutive paystubs.
APCHA board member Rick Head made a motion to allow Nethery to stay in his home.
“We’re often characterized as a non-caring board and I think we are compassionate,” he said.
The board voted 6-0 to allow Nethery to keep his condo with the stipulation that he must work full-time in Pitkin County.
“I feel for you,” APCHA board chair Ron Erickson said. “I think we all understand the problems that you are going through and we hope you work them out.”
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