Deed-restricted housing: What’s the problem? |

Deed-restricted housing: What’s the problem?

State legislation that would prohibit deed-restricted housing is a solution looking for a problem. Lawmakers should kill it, so they can focus their attention on real issues, and so a worthwhile approach to affordable housing can continue.

Senate Bill 154, sponsored by Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, would prohibit counties and municipalities from enacting ordinances or resolutions that would ” … require an owner to sell the property below its fair market value.”

Deed-restricted housing caps the annual appreciation on some housing at resale, keeping those homes more affordable even when prices skyrocket.

Hillman said deed-restricted housing burdens developers who might be required to sell new houses at below-market rates. And to make up for that, developers charge more for free-market housing, so buyers of free market homes in effect subsidize deed-restricted housing.

We sympathize with neither of those considerations.

If deed-restricted housing is used in a community, it’s because housing costs are soaring. That means developers are having little trouble making a profit.

As Hillman points out, developers have every right to charge more for free-market housing to make up for below-market sales. Where’s the problem?

Who better to hit up for such subsidies than those whose ability to buy high-priced homes are driving up housing costs, and who profit from the continuing equity growth of their investment?

And what better result? It only means that buyers of free-market homes help provide cheaper housing for those who teach their children, police their streets, fight their fires and wait on them in restaurants.

Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens points out that the average free-market home in Basalt costs in excess of $390,000 – “clearly unaffordable to the majority of our workforce.”

As a result, workers must commute long distances, which increases highway costs, pollution and gasoline consumption, adds to domestic stress, and increases impacts on police, courts and social service providers.

Offsetting some of these social costs by requiring deed-restricted housing is worth the subsidy it demands of free-market home buyers.

Basalt, Aspen, Pitkin County, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Garfield County all have deed-restricted housing programs, as do other Colorado communities coping with huge jumps in housing prices.

From the perspective of our region, deed-restricted housing is part of the solution to the problem of unaffordable housing. It should be retained and increased, not made illegal.

– Dennis Webb, News Editor

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