Support independent, Colorado-owned journalism by joining The Colorado Sun. Create an Account - Increase your productivity, customize your experience, and engage in information you care about. So what’s the answer to sustaining a community of longtime residents amid a growing sea of millionaires and billionaires parking cash in second homes? They’ve been paying income-based, appreciation-capped mortgages for decades. The department manages and maintains six rental apartment complexes containing 247 apartment units and administers the sale of 176 deed restricted units consisting of single-family homes, town homes, and condominiums. So his board is considering how it can offer incentives for retirees to maybe move into smaller homes. Richards wants the retiree conversation to lean toward building a lasting community, but she agrees that housing is a critical need for employers seeking to lure workers — and not just those workers floating Aspen’s tourism economy, but a diverse collection of workers, young and old. “It’s happening all over.”. Eagle County estimates it will need 1,655 new units by 2025 for workers replacing people who are retiring. People who are overtly critical of Aspen’s employee housing, the “oral minority,” have a fundamental misunderstanding, bordering on denial, of how it works, who lives in it, and how we contribute to the community. Rachel Richards has worked nearly 30 years serving Aspen and Pitkin County as mayor, councilwoman and county commissioner. Every day, locals flip open their newspapers and see dozens of color ads for homes with prices that look like they just have to be typos. Mesirow is in the small kitchen of his rented home in Aspen’s East End, prepping a chicken-curry dinner for more than a dozen friends leading an effort to shift Aspen elections to March from May, the off season, when many residents are out of town. Employee housing effectively diversifies the free market’s investment on Aspen’s future. My gut instinct would be to hold. Once Popinchalk met with Mesirow and Benedetti, his fears waned. You have permission to edit this article. People turn over. That house is no longer available for that opportunity.”. If the need for housing is ever a question, just look at all the traffic coming and going from Aspen every day. “The notion that we are all going to clog up the system like so much cholesterol as we get old, that’s really not true,” he said. Kosdrosky said it is “morally, legally and ethically untenable” to force retirees to move. An estimated 5 percent are scammers. The byproduct of that, thanks to the real estate transfer tax, is employee housing. “If we don’t nip this retirement issue in the bud, we are in big trouble.”. “We are pretty far off the goal of housing even half our workers,” Benedetti said. Housing our employees at the City of Aspen is an important component of hiring and retaining the best workforce possible to serve our community. - Increase your productivity, customize your experience, and engage in information you care about. “The tendency of people in affordable housing is not different than free-market units. It’s a demographic time bomb ticking inside Colorado’s priciest real estate market. If the home were free-market, Popinchalk would have paid much more, but it would have appreciated at a much greater rate. Before 2002, Colorado never had a 100,000-acre wildfire. He tutors and helps students craft applications for colleges and volunteers with the experiential education program he fostered at Aspen High. Mike Kosdrosky, the executive director of the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority, works in his downtown Aspen office in mid October. “It’s not like you have real ownership,” said Andy Popinchalk, who recently retired after 32 years teaching at Aspen High School and lives in the affordable home where he raised two sons. They are capped at 3 percent per year. The proof is in the pudding — even some local realtors live in employee housing. “We are the future generation that has to figure this out.”. Solutions might involve older residents renting rooms to young workers. Aspen City Council has prioritized the creation of more affordable housing. Generally speaking, the people who own employee-housing units are extremely grateful, dangerously good-looking, hardworking folks who provide all kinds of necessary services. As a news piece, this article cites verifiable, third-party sources which have all been thoroughly fact-checked and deemed credible by the Newsroom in accordance with the Civil Constitution. After all, we’re all neighbors. But those buyers don’t see their homes appreciate at a market rate. aspen Pitkin county employee housing inc. building community in our community since 1978. Vail has a goal to acquire another thousand deed-restricted units by 2027, giving the town more options as residents age in their subsidized homes. Not just the kids loading chairlifts and serving drinks, but the lawyers and doctors who can’t afford — by a long shot — an average-priced home in Aspen. “The housing issue is an economic issue,” she said. “We are definitely watching them.”. Lawyers, doctors, dentists and skilled trade workers require housing assistance in Aspen. Affordable housing is an issue reaching crisis level across Colorado, especially in the high country, where luxury real estate and second homes drive resort economies. “Our community plan has always called for trying to maintain a real community here for all generations,” said Richards, who moved into an affordable home in the late 1980s. Richards, who helped sculpt Aspen community plans in 1993, 2000 and 2012, is one of the people who tell Kosdrosky that the affordable-housing program is about building neighborhoods and creating a community that doesn’t ebb and flow with the seasons. “They are making a terrible bargain for themselves,” she said. Effective May 24th, 2017, APCHA has adopted new asset restrictions to amend the Aspen/ Pitkin County Employee Housing Guidelines. Kosdrosky is worried because by 2025, anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of the owned homes will be occupied by retirees, Kosdrosky said. We have a contract. MORE: High-country Colorado towns wrangle big-city problems with homelessness. The private development in Aspen is a fire hose of money that the city is constantly playing defense trying to mitigate. The affordable-housing program in Aspen ranges from studio apartments in free-market projects — which the city requires developers to build to accommodate new workers — to a 258-home village on the outskirts of town. My biggest concern is my kid, and where he’ll live in Aspen, if he wants to stay and work his ass off. I’m meeting with anyone who’s been here longer than me and telling them I live in the best place in the world because of what they’ve built. ASPEN — A surge of retirees in the nation’s most venerable and innovative resort-community affordable housing program is threatening to overwhelm 43 years of careful curation. The fiery backlash bummed out Mesirow and committee chairwoman Christine Benedetti, a longtime resident of the Roaring Fork Valley who commutes from Carbondale to her editing job in Aspen. You also would be quick to report anyone who wasn’t playing by the rules. We’re just trying to do the same thing everyone else is: live in Aspen, work, play and pay off our mortgages. Where do the workers live? “Used to be you could move here and you could get five guys together and stuff them in a house and everyone was paying $400, $500 a month in rent. “It’s just building smarter.”. In that sense, Aspen is a place where trickle-down economics works well on a daily basis. We would be building only dormitories if we did.”. Why would someone who lives in free-market housing resent anyone who lives in employee housing? (Brian Bitterfield, Special to The Colorado Sun), Primary category in which blog post is published, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window), Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), A map of Colorado’s coronavirus cases, deaths, How to submit an opinion piece to The Sun, Learn more about Civil’s Credibility Indicators, Affordable housing is an issue reaching crisis level, High-country Colorado towns wrangle big-city problems with homelessness, 1,655 new units by 2025 for workers replacing people who are retiring, How Colorado is key to NASA’s first mission to collect asteroid dirt, Fire charts that show where 2020 ranks in Colorado wildfire history, Opinion: It’s time for a democracy restoration package, Colorado opens statewide in-person voting with rules designed to prevent coronavirus outbreaks, Aurora delays in-person learning for high school students until November, following Denver Public Schools, (720) 263-2338 — Call, text, Signal or WhatsApp. So when a local sells her affordable home, she barely has enough for a down payment on a free-market home. The most recent estimates show that less than 40 percent of Aspen workers live in the city. He counters that, saying the program was actually designed to house workers. The city plans on growing its affordable-housing credit balance and meeting the council’s directive from almost two decades ago with a new development near the water treatment plant on Doolittle Drive above the hospital. About 1,650 are deed-restricted homes owned by teachers, politicians, doctors, chefs, nonprofit workers, police officers and business owners — the people who keep Aspen running as it hosts waves of the wealthy and the glitterati on holiday. We can’t house them. It’s like an IRA for our workforce. The remaining properties are rentals. It’s not a right. The housing shortage in Aspen has “pushed everyone to the point where they are trying to take a slice of everyone else’s pie,” Richards said. Low 37F. The rest were second homes, about 25 percent of which were owned by corporations or legal entities. “It’s a very different life for people who live in free-market homes and those who live in employee housing. My exit strategy includes retiring here in employee housing and doing a good deal of volunteer work, followed by a backyard burial. This article contains new, firsthand information uncovered by its reporter(s). For those who have been around and can remember when that $8 million, three-bedroom house cost $400,000, there’s a pang of lost opportunity. The city of Aspen’s new municipal office building will generate 86 employees, of which 60 percent will be mitigated for using the government’s in-house affordable-housing credits. Lockheed Martin engineers in Littleton take command as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collects samples from the asteroid Bennu to help earthlings better understand the origin of our solar system.
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