Is Aspen a model for M.V.?

Resort city provides workforce housing.

— Courtesy Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority

One of the models affordable housing advocates on the Island have looked at is the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA), an affordable workforce-housing program.

Deed-restricted workforce housing began in Pitkin County and Aspen in the mid-1970s, but it wasn’t until 1982 when an intergovernmental agreement was struck between the city and the county to form APCHA as an independent entity that would provide workforce housing to resident employees in the high-cost resort community. The area began seeing a burst of redevelopment.

“In the late 1970s, the county started to see housing that workers were living in being redeveloped into single residential units,” APCHA deputy director Cindy Christensen told The Times. “They created the Housing Authority.”

APCHA’s powers are multi-jurisdictional, and allow the program to “acquire and dispose of property; plan, construct, and manage affordable workforce housing; make contracts; hire employees; and raise revenues to fund the program.”

APCHA is governed by a five-member board of directors appointed by Aspen’s city council and Pitkin County’s county commissioners, which oversees 3,088 rental and ownership units. A 1 percent transfer fee is collected on all real estate purchases, with the first $100,000 exempt — an exemption threshold that has not been raised since the program’s creation. The fee is reapproved by county vote periodically, and was recently renewed and extended until 2040.

Over the past 26 years, APCHA has collected $172.4 million through its transfer fee. In 1994, the program collected $1.2 million, and revenues have risen steadily since — $4.3 million in 2000, $9.4 million in 2005, dropping to $6.3 million in 2010, $10 million in 2015, and $17.5 million in 2020.

Christensen said she expects 2021 to be a banner year for the program, as the housing market has been as hot as it has been on the Island.



  1. Aspen has, like Nantucket, been way ahead of us in addressing the affordable and workforce housing situation. The median sales price in Aspen today is 13.5 million! In 2000 we looked at their housing programs in Chilmark to help formulate the basis for our initial affordable housing rules, amended many time now. Aspen unlike MV has a road to the workforce and while we don’t necessarily like to think about it- we have to embrace some hard and difficult decisions if we want to have a workforce on MV.

    We Islanders do not love change and at the same time change has been happening steadily and it’s rate has increased over the past 24 months as people flock to MV. It can be argued that larger multi-person/family structures are not in character with MV. I would like you to consider what is the character of MV- its structures or its people? If you agree that we need to keep the people on the island, then we need some bold new solutions, that go along with the others changes we are being faced with. Consistent funding, while paramount to a successful solution, is only the first step and part of the long-term solution that to solve this problem.

  2. Yes and yes again and it should be at the airport and only open April 1 to November 1 so it truly is seasonal housing.

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