CHA Begins Notifying Local Authorities About Possible Affordable Housing Poll Tax Issue – By Ark Valley Voice Staff

Beginning with Monday’s Chaffee County Board of Commissioners business meeting, Chaffee County Housing Authority (CHA) staff and board are planning briefings for elected officials in Salida, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs and Chaffee County on the possibility of asking a tax question. in the November 2022 ballot to fund affordable housing across the county.

These working session discussions with local authorities aim to get input from CHA jurisdictional partners on whether, and how, increased tax revenue could help solve Chaffee’s significant housing crisis, especially for the county workforce, seniors and families.

The provisional schedule of meetings is as follows:
● April 4, 1:30 p.m.: Chaffee County Commissioners Working Session
● April 4, 6:00 p.m.: working session of the municipal council of Salida
● April 12, 6:00 p.m.: Buena Vista City Council working session
● May 23, time TBD, Poncha Springs City Administrator Business Session

“The scope and scale of the housing crisis in Chaffee means that 64% of all households in Chaffee County are paying more than half their income in housing expenses, making it extremely burdensome,” Becky said. Gray, CHA director. “Many businesses are already closing or are being forced to reduce their opening hours, and everyone is feeling the pain. We need a sustainable source of funding to create more housing opportunities than our workers, seniors and households can afford, while providing renters with the help they need to stay in their homes. Right now we just don’t have that level of funding.

The CHA was founded to address Chaffee’s affordable housing issues, as a partnership between Chaffee County and the municipalities of Salida and Buena Vista. The organization has identified four key steps needed to address the current crisis:

  1. Improving policies that make housing more affordable
  2. Construction and/or acquisition of affordable housing (including rental)
  3. Establish and support local programs for people in housing insecurity
  4. Building a sustainable organization with the mandate and funding to fight affordable housing

Proposed allocation of new funds for housing. Graphic courtesy of the Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA)

During Monday’s presentation with the Chaffee BoCC, Gray and CHA Board Member Jamie Hayes presented what they envision a budget of nearly $3 million broken down into allocation zones. . The budget sets out an organizational operating allocation of 14% and two areas of owned housing development:

  • Labor Housing Development – 38%
  • Housing development for the 65+ — 31%

Gray pointed out that this type of budget to support housing development in the county will take more than the current investment from the county, the city of Salida and the city of Buena Vista; an agreement that will end in 2025.

She also noted that while state legislation relating to the county lodging tax may allow local jurisdictions to vote to use a portion of that tax for lodging, the CHA does not recommend two questions on the ballot. of November 2022, because it confuses voters. The CHA, she added, wants to participate in any proposed vote wording for what could potentially be a four-mil property tax to help fund housing for the county’s badly needed workforce. “We would be happy to participate in language and any potential campaign messaging,” Gray added.

“The reality is that building accessible and affordable housing for the workforce and seniors, and creating sustainable tenancy support programs, is expensive,” said Craig Nielson, chairman of the board. administration of the CHA. “However, we believe that a community problem requires a community solution. We are excited to open a public discussion on how using taxpayer dollars can be a viable strategy to make meaningful progress in affordable housing in the years to come.

For more information on the Chaffee Housing Authority visit www.chaffeehousingauthority.org

Featured Image: A group came together in 2020 to celebrate the formation of the Chaffee Housing Authority. Photo by Jan Wonder.

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