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The Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) Board of Directors held their monthly meeting on Thurs. Nov. 17. A link to the meeting agenda and board packet is here. 

Apart from approving its consent agenda, the board took no formal votes during this session but did an update on progress on the Jane’s Place Transitional Housing Project and the community guidelines it uses to determine tenant eligibility.

Background and Organization

The CHA Board is led by Craig Nielson (Chair) and Joseph Teipel (Vice Chair) and consists of representatives from the County, Town of Buena Vista, the City of Salida and those “at-large” (Poncha Springs is not currently a CHA member).

Logo courtesy Chaffee Housing Authority

According to the CHA website  and Strategic Plan, “The Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) is an independent public organization, formed in October 2020 through a joint agreement between Chaffee County, the City of Salida, and the Town of Buena Vista. The CHA’s work focuses solely on increasing affordable housing across the county. As previously reported by AVV, according to CHA Director, Becky Gray, for now, the CHA relies on the County as their “fiscal sponsor” to provide full-fledged fund accounting, and human resource services.

The CHA is a multijurisdictional housing authority. It “was created through the work of a Housing Policy Steering Committee, 2016-2020. The Housing Authority Board, governing the work of the CHA, was initially seated in February, 2021.” Further, “The Chaffee Housing Authority is a separate political subdivision and a public corporation of the state of Colorado separate from the County and its other member entities.”

The Chaffee County Office of Housing was the antecedent to the eventual formation of the CHA, together with the two municipal member entities. The role of and relationship between the CHA and  the Chaffee County Office of Housing is expected to evolve as current funding arrangements expire in 2023. Other factors affecting the CHA will be the impacts of Nov. ballot issues 1A (Expanding Use of Existing Lodging Tax, which passed) and 6A (CHA funding which failed)

Old Business

Jane’s Place Transitional Housing Project

Site of Jane’s Place, 17-unit rental and transitional housing development at West Third Street and Hwy 291 in Salida. Merrell Bergin photo

CHA/Jane’s Place Owners’ Agent Todd Goulding described his role as the “orchestra leader” working with the design team (Bob Grether, Architect) and the general contractor, acting as a fiduciary for the CHA. Weekly meetings with the owner, architect, and contractor are planned.

Goulding will monitor the monthly payment applications as well as the level of the contingency fund.

Goulding noted that the CHA received multiple bids and based upon bid price, comparable expertise, and references, they have selected a general contractor. “95 percent of the contract has been negotiated, it is being finalized with the CHA attorney and should be signed by the end of the month”, he said. “We are working on feedback from the County Building Department and expect permits to be filed by mid-December”.

CHA Director Gray  reported that they had $2 million in secured financing and that Deputy Director Mike Bischoff was working on the total financing structure. Organizers are aiming towards a Dec. 9 groundbreaking. Next steps include mobilizing the construction team, fencing the site and other preparations with a 12-14 month total timeline after startup, subject to weather and any unforeseen factors beyond their immediate control.

Community Guidelines

While the failed ballot measure 6A was not directly mentioned, the board and staff did discuss the current Community Guidelines. The guidelines are intended to establish policies and procedures for the following:

  • Tenant Eligibility Criteria
  • Verification and recertification of eligibility
  • Procedures to apply for CHA-facilitated affordable housing

In attendance at the meeting was guest Cory “Salty” Riggs, leader of BETCH, a housing advocate group that has consistently participated in City Council and other housing meetings throughout 2022.  A contentious part (for some voters) about whether to support ballot measure 6A was the details of eligibility. Specifically, this involved a point-scoring system determining priority for those who might access the limited supply of deed-restricted housing arising from inclusionary housing policies. During the Nov.15 Salida City Council meeting, BETCH members said that foodservice, recreation, and hospitality workers seemed to be excluded from the current priority system (page 10).

Board and staff discussion continued, exploring ways to improve the system for allocating scarce housing units including first-come, first-serve, more comprehensive priority scoring and/or lottery options. After getting initial feedback from the attendees, the matter was tabled until January. Additional models will be brought back to the board, with two work sessions planned by year-end and ideally, adoption of updated guidelines, targeted for January 2023.

New Business

Special Purpose Entity/Special Limited Partners

A brief discussion was held regarding the concept of the CHA being proposed as a “Special Limited Partner” (SLP), working with possibly the Chaffee Housing Trust and/or a for-profit developer. According to the packet (Item 07), “As a housing authority, CHA can own as little as 0.01 percent of an affordable housing project (multifamily or single family) within their political boundaries. The advantages are:

  • If partnered with the Chaffee Housing Trust (CHT): Presently, the CHT must request property tax abatement every year for each property in its land trust program. With CHA as partial owner, this abatement is automatic, perpetuating the affordability of the deed-restricted homes. This would save time and effort.
  • If partnered with a developer: With CHA as a partial owner of a housing project, the project does not pay sales tax on construction or property tax. The latter significantly impacts the development’s financing leverage.

The CHA Development Committee, led by member Ashley Kappel, will examine these concepts and draft documents, reporting back to the board with the goal of creating a standard template as a baseline to ease negotiations on future projects.

Energy Smart Colorado

Salida board member Dominique Naccarato gave a brief overview of the Energy Smart Colorado program, that the county and local municipalities have been working on since 2021. Possible benefits might be: subsidized, low-cost energy assessments for local homes and potentially, working with the Northwest Colorado Council of Government (NWCOG) Weatherization Assistance program.

The Energy Smart Colorado resources will be asked to present an update to the CHA, likely in January to determine interest in any future partnership with the CHA.

Board and Committee Structure 

Lastly, Board Chair Craig Nielson set the stage for developing a more streamlined, proactive board, by engaging existing committees and a possible shift in meeting schedules. This would allow more time for staff and committees to complete agreed tasks before preparing for board meetings, accelerating the cadence of committee meetings and enabling them to make recommendations to the board while spreading the workload out.

Concluding the open session, the board moved to go into Executive Session to discuss “contact negotiations”.

The next scheduled board meeting is tentatively set for Dec. 15 and the agenda and Google Meet information will be posted on the Chaffee County Government Welcome Page/Calendar, shortly before the meeting