Meeting aims at affordable housing specifics |

Meeting aims at affordable housing specifics

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Aspen’s resort-town housing market and the oil and gas industry to the west are squeezing the Glenwood Springs housing market like a vice, according to Tom Ziemann.”It’s mind-boggling what the prices are now,” said Ziemann, director of Catholic Charities and a member of Congregations and Schools Empowered (CASE). “Most of those are not going to be rented by a service worker. There’s just nothing available.”Ziemann emphasized the wording “attainable” instead of “affordable.” After years of discussion and little action the term “affordable housing” can sound worn out or nearly meaningless.

“Because $400,000 and affordable can be in the same sentence now in this town, we have to start to change the semantics involved,” he said.CASE will hold a third meeting to discuss attainable housing Thursday night. What’s new about this meeting is that “key players” such as the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), school districts, hospitals, Lowes, Target, Aspen Skiing Co. and others are expected to participate.Ziemann said CASE hopes to find out what they’re observing and what, if anything, they’re doing with employee housing – good input for elected officials to hear. Some employers have done things on their own, but others haven’t and might be interested in partnering with government authorities. The point is to discuss how everyone involved might work together to solve the problem instead of doing their own thing.

“There’s got to be some kind of collaboration that’s going to go on,” Ziemann said. “We’ve been discussing this for a long time, and there’s not been a lot produced in terms of actual bricks and sticks on the ground. … All we’re saying is that, based on our research and what we’ve looked at, not much is happening because each town and each county is doing their own thing. There’s no coordinated effort.”The latest proposal for a project that’s been worked on for seven years in Carbondale was voted down, Ziemann said. It was outside the city’s urban growth zone, and Town Board members didn’t want to expand the zone, he added.”There’s developers out there that want to do affordable housing,” he said. “What we have a problem with is the right kind of deals happening.”Despite the challenges, CASE hopes to make progress on the housing issue. In addition to creating deed-restricted housing for sale, the valley also needs rentals cheap enough to house the people who work here, Ziemann said.”I think we’re going to get down to more of the specifics at this next meeting,” Ziemann said. “We want to get people away from the idea of, ‘Lets continue to talk about this.’ We’ve been talking for a long time. This is not easy, but the solutions are out there. It’s a matter of having the will to do it.” Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler @postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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