Glenwood Springs City Council talks affordable housing strategies
Future Glenwood Springs affordable housing strategies could include federal assistance, presenters told City Council on Thursday.
Community Builders Executive Director Clark Anderson and Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) representative Kathryn Grosscup met with council members during a Thursday morning work session to discuss housing options for all income brackets.
Affordable housing serves residents by not only providing housing for an area’s workforce but also its retirees and people who own large family homes, who want to downsize to something more manageable without leaving the community, Anderson said.
In a balanced market, affordable housing is created naturally as residential areas age and new developments are built. But Anderson said the lack of new developments in Glenwood Springs combined with increased interest in the area from second-home buyers, hedge funds using physical property as investment opportunities, vacation rental properties and a population shift toward rural areas like Garfield County has created a distinct lack of affordable housing throughout the region.
“Even in the good times, there’s almost always a portion of the population that can’t afford housing,” he said. “And now, the West is one of the fastest growing portions of the country, and we’re right in the middle of that.”
While no single policy or municipal decision can create a housing solution, Anderson said several strategies are on the table for local governments to utilize.
Options include acquiring land for affordable development, preservation strategies to keep current affordable housing affordable, developing public-private partnerships, educating the public about best practices for renters and buyers as well as hiring a program manager to oversee the city’s efforts.
Grosscup said CHFA specializes in developing public-private partnerships, which are seen as key to most affordable housing strategies used throughout the state.
The agency helps facilitate federal assistance through Lower Income Housing Tax Credits and Affordable Housing Tax Credits, which can be used by developers and municipalities to offset the lack of income from lower-than-market rental rates.
Grosscup explained one significant barrier to building new affordable housing is the private sector’s reliance on incurring debt to fund a project.
Lenders want to see significant profit margins before backing a development, and rental rates that fall within the affordable housing categories set by Area Median Income (AMI) fail to meet those profit margins, she said.
Tax credits are just one example of public-private partnerships, and Grosscup said many of the communities working with the CHFA are employing a variety of strategies to meet their residents’ needs.
While council members queried Grosscup about specific projects in other Colorado municipalities, no decision was made based on information provided during the work session.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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