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.