Carbondale’s affordable housing woes not easy to fix
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Affordable housing troubles here are not going to be solved immediately, but officials from the town and Garfield County agreed on an initial course of action on Tuesday.
The Garfield County Housing Authority (GCHA) has stepped up to manage Carbondale’s affordable-housing program, in return for a fee of $28,000 a year, following dissolution of the Mountain Regional Housing Corp., which managed the program previously.
The GCHA is currently trying to determine how best to go about its newest task.
“You’ve hit the ground running, and we appreciate that,” said Mayor Stacey Bernot.
“It’s a very Carbondalesque program, but we love it already,” said Kathryn Grosscup, program manager for the GCHA, during a discussion about what can be done to fine-tune Carbondale’s regulations.
She said the authority already is fielding calls from Carbondale residents and others about housing program issues.
One difficulty facing the program, and by extension Grosscup and GCHA Director Geneva Powell, is an ongoing debate about “resident occupied” deed restrictions on homes in Keator Grove.
The Keator Grove subdivision, located off Highway 133, has 52 units ranging from condominiumized townhomes and flats to free-standing homes. All carry a deed restriction.
Trustee Frosty Merriott, at Tuesday’s meeting, pointed out that some resident-occupied, or “R.O.” deed restrictions on some Keator Grove homes permit homeowners to live in their homes for six months a year and still qualify as residents. Other deed restrictions require nine months.
Merriott complained that the inconsistency is not acceptable.
“Consistency is one of our goals, too,” said Grosscup, explaining that it increases consumer confidence in affordable housing programs.
While not formally on the agenda for the meeting, Keator Grove consumed a considerable amount of time and discussion at the meeting.
Beside the R.O. issues, some of the units are governed by a price appreciation cap, designed to keep the cost of a home from becoming unaffordable over time.
But when home prices slumped in the past few years, that cap reset to lower price levels, officials said. Now, even as free-market home prices are starting to rise again, the cap on the homes in Keator Grove prevents homeowners from recouping their original sales price.
Also problematic are the foreclosure-proof deed restrictions on Keator Grove homes. The deed restrictions are written to stay in place through any foreclosure proceedings, again to keep homes from being priced out of reach for typical working families.
But lenders have balked at mortgages for homes with deed restrictions attached to the title, according to Powell and Grosscup.
Housing authority staff pledged to address the issues and report back to the trustees.
Town manager Jay Harrington thanked Powell and Grosscup for stepping up to manage the town’s affordable housing program.
“If they weren’t here to help us out … we’d be in a real problem,” he said.
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