Carbondale trustees talk regional housing authority |

Carbondale trustees talk regional housing authority

Ryan Summerlin

A proposed regional housing authority that could develop affordable housing is still being negotiated. And Carbondale trustees got an update on the progress Tuesday as the effort continues to take shape.

A draft of an intergovernmental agreement, which would officially form the authority, has been circulated among seven local governments that are potential members. Should this IGA pan out and these governments partner for the authority, the trajectory of this effort is to propose a tax question on the November 2018 ballot to fund affordable housing developments in the region.

But a lot needs to happen before then.

Alongside the IGA, a request for proposals is being drafted for a regional housing needs assessment, a study that would provide important data to inform this effort.

So far the seven local governments that may join the housing authority are Pitkin and Garfield counties, Eagle County where it crosses into the Roaring Fork Valley, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle.

The city of Aspen and town of Snowmass Village are not interested in joining this partnership as members, said David Myler, a Colorado Housing Finance Authority board member and local land-use attorney who’s been crafting the IGA for the proposed housing authority. But several upvalley organizations, as well as the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, are eager to participate, even if they’re not on the board, said Trustee Heather Henry.

Though the Garfield County commissioners wanted to extend this partnership downvalley of Glenwood Springs, communities west of New Castle also don’t perceive their affordable housing needs to be the same as the Roaring Fork Valley’s, and they may be best served by a separate housing authority, said Myler.

Myler said the IGA is basically the first step in creating the regional authority, which just needs these governments to agree on the basics of the agreement, their duties and responsibilities. It does not need voter approval. “We’re not inventing anything here; this is a form of agreement used in other regions of the state,” said Myler. And currently, they’re looking for feedback from the prospective partners on what can be fine tuned or what flat out won’t work.

Myler has been partnering with Bill Lamont, a retired Boulder city planner and longtime Roaring Fork Valley local, to craft the housing authority IGA and RFP for the needs assessment. Lamont said they hope to get the RFP finalized in the next three weeks, and he estimated that study would run between $60,000 and $100,000, a cost that should be shared among the authority partners.

Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington stressed that this effort will take an intensive effort by elected officials to urge other jurisdictions who are less motivated on the regional housing authority.

“All the local governments say the devil’s in the details, and we’re starting to get to the details,” said Myler. Each of the potential partners wants to make sure that for whatever amount of money they put in, their community gets a proportional benefit to their workforce, that their tax contributions are roughly proportionate to the benefits.

Everyone seems to like the concept and buys into the idea that the Roaring Fork Valley is one community with a very mobile workforce, said Myler. And they agree that their efforts aren’t keeping up with the demand, so some aggressive effort is necessary to develop affordable housing in the right locations.

Still, Harrington expected some “heavy lifting” to be necessary to hammer out details with other jurisdictions, and that it will be critical to have advocates in those communities.

The IGA process will test the political will of some of the potential members, said Myler, but he was confident that if they could get “conceptual buy-in,” they could work through the details with these partners.

“I feel like this is the only significant thing we can do [on affordable housing], and we need to throw our weight behind it,” said Trustee Ben Bohmfalk.

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