Priority to essential services workers and longtime residents
By Mark Reaman
The Crested Butte Town Council is on board with a new series of affordable housing regulations and guidelines that basically match up with the county and other municipalities in the area. The council approved the new regulations at the February 1 meeting.
Town planner Michael Yerman and Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority executive director Karl Fulmer went over the changes and broad guidelines for the council. Under the new system, a Master Deed Restriction will be recorded against the property but reference the guidelines. That is meant to allow more flexibility for any governing body to adjust the guidelines but not have to go through the major process of changing a deed restriction.
Fulmer said having a shared set of guidelines with the county and other municipalities would lead to less confusion for buyers, renters and lenders of affordable housing properties.
The basic guidelines include income and asset limitations, employment requirements, and the need for the property to be a renter’s or buyer’s primary residence. Other residential properties cannot be owned by those seeking affordable housing accommodations. Opportunity to qualify for an affordable housing unit is increased by the length of time someone has spent in the valley.
Councilman Jim Schmidt wanted to make sure that those living in affordable housing units in Crested Butte had jobs in the north end of the valley. “Who are we trying to help?” he asked. “The goal is to provide housing for those people who have jobs up here.”
“We don’t want to narrow down the employment restrictions too much,” said Fulmer. “Someone could have a job with Crested Butte Mountain Resort when they first qualified and then get a job at the hospital, for example. If we do that too narrowly, it limits the effectiveness of the overall housing program.”
“I agree with Jim,” said councilman Chris Ladoulis. “The spirit is that if we are going to be subsidizing housing, it should be for our workers.”
“It’s not in the spirit of a regional housing program,” countered Yerman. “Would Gunnison then want to restrict their units to people who only work down there?”
“We are an up- and down-valley community,” said mayor Glenn Michel. “That’s just the way it is.”
Ultimately the guidelines for Crested Butte will prioritize essential service providers such as firefighters, plow drivers and bus drivers who work in the north end of the valley. If a lottery is needed to select people for affordable housing, more chances are given to people who have lived in the valley the longest.
The council agreed to the new affordable housing guideline criteria and that will now be used to qualify people hoping to purchase deed-restricted lots in blocks 79 and 80 in the town of Crested Butte.