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Beginning with the Monday Chaffee Board of County Commissioners work session, the Chaffee County Housing Authority (CHA) staff and Board of Directors plan briefings for elected officials in Salida, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, and Chaffee County about the possibility of placing a taxation question on the November 2022 ballot to fund affordable housing across the county.

These work session discussions with local authorities are intended to elicit input from the CHA’s jurisdictional partners on whether, and how, increased tax revenue might help to address Chaffee’s significant housing crisis – especially for the county’s workforce, seniors, and families.

The intended schedule for meetings is as follows:

  • April 4, 1:30 p.m.: Chaffee County Commissioners’ work session
  • April 4, 6:00 p.m.: Salida City Council work session
  • April 12, 6:00 p.m.: Buena Vista Town Council work session
  • May 23, time TBD, Poncha Springs Town Trustee work session

“The scope and scale of the housing crisis in Chaffee mean that 64 percent of all households in Chaffee County pay more than half of their income on housing expenses, making them extremely cost-burdened,” said Becky Gray, Director of the CHA. “Many businesses are already closing or being forced to curtail hours, and everyone is feeling the pain. We need a sustainable funding source to create more housing opportunities that our workers, seniors, and households can afford, while also providing renters with the assistance they need to stay in their homes. Right now, we simply 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 attainable
  2. Construction and/or acquisition of affordable housing units (especially rentals)
  3. Establishing and supporting local programs for those with housing insecurities
  4. Building a sustainable organization with the mandate and financing to address affordable housing

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

During Monday’s presentation with the Chaffee BoCC, Gray and CHA board member Jamie Hayes laid out what they envisioned as close to a $3 million budget broken down into allocation areas. The budget sets a 14 percent organizational operations allocation, and two areas of owned-housing development:

  • Workforce housing development — 38 percent
  • 65+ housing development — 31 percent

Gray pointed out that this kind of budget to support housing development in the county is going to take more than the current investment from the county, the City of Salida and the Town of Buena Vista; an agreement which will sunset in 2025.

She also noted that although state legislation related to the county lodging tax may allow local jurisdictions to vote to use some of that tax toward housing, the CHA doesn’t recommend two tax ballot questions on the Nov. 2022 ballot because it confuses voters. The CHA, she added wants to participate in any proposed ballot language for what could potentially be a four mills property tax to help fund housing for the county’s critically-needed workforce.  “We’d be happy to participate in the language and in any potential campaign messaging,” added Gray.

“The reality is that building attainable and affordable workforce and senior housing, and creating sustainable rental support programs is costly,” said Craig Nielson, CHA Board Chair. “However, we believe that a community problem requires a community solution. We are excited about opening up a public discussion about how, and whether, using tax dollars may be a viable strategy to make significant progress in affordable housing in the coming years.”

For more information on the Chaffee Housing Authority, visit

Featured image: A group gathered in 2020 to celebrate the formation of the Chaffee Housing Authority. Photo by Jan Wondra.