Aspen housing program looking for an enforcer
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority is in the midst of creating a new position that will serve as an enforcer of the local program’s rules but wants more money to hire someone.
Aspen City Council and the Pitkin County commissioners approved funding for the new senior compliance officer. Both governments oversee the affordable-housing program and will split the cost of the position. The original ask was for $87,000 a year. However, as APCHA Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky began developing the job description, he realized it will likely require more than that. He said he plans to meet with department heads and other government officials this week to see if that money can be found in this year’s budget or in 2019.
APCHA qualifications specialist Julie Kieffer has been dedicating some of her time toward compliance and enforcement, and so has Kosdrosky. He told the APCHA board last month that he spends a third of his time on compliance issues, with one or two landing on his desk each day.
“My board understands we are behind. … We’ve been under-sourced, historically, to go after rule breakers,” he said last week. “I need one full-time person dedicated to this.”
As an example, Kosdrosky broke down the length of time it took to resolve the 133 compliance complaints received in 2016 and 2017.
What he found was 48 percent of complaints were resolved within the first 30 days, 66 percent resolved within 90 days, 83 percent resolved within 180 days, 93 percent resolved within 360 days and almost 7 percent took over 360 days to resolve.
He said there’s room for improvement for a program that manages nearly 3,000 units.
“Similar to the Pareto Principle or ‘80/20 rule,’ probably 80 percent of Julie’s time and energy spent on compliance during this period was due to less than 20 percent of the complaints or cases received,” Kosdrosky said.
“There’s a perception, if not a reality, that there is a lot of rule breaking,” Kosdrosky said. “It’s about protecting the integrity of the program and maintain the public trust.
“We need someone who can educate the community as much as enforce the rules.”
There were 154 cases investigated last year, 112 of which were resolved, and resulted in 16 sales units back in the inventory and 22 rental openings, according to Kieffer. That’s the equivalent of $19 million worth of inventory given back to the public. There are roughly 80 open compliance cases so far this year.
Kosdrosky noted that it takes a lot of staff time, energy and resources —administrative and legal — to administer compliance and enforcement cases.
By hiring a full-time compliance officer, he expects to reduce the department’s operational and legal costs, as well as lower the risk of liability and lawsuits.
“We’re hoping a full-time compliance specialist will streamline our processes, but it will also take automation of our systems through the HIMS,” he said, referring to the planned $1 million Housing Information Management System that’s designed to improve the system’s data collection, reporting and analytics.
Tonight, council is expected to approve a contract with a consultant to begin the first phase of the project.
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The crises between January 2009 and Tuesday, when he stepped down from the Pitkin County board, have bookended a political career that Newman said he thinks lived up to the slogan on the yard sign from his first campaign he still keeps in his garage: “Preserve, Conserve, Collaborate.”