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A free-to-the-public session about affordable housing, called Housing 101, will be offered from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort Pavilion to give the general public an educational overview of the many housing tools and policies that communities can implement. The 90-minute session is being offered by the Colorado Mountain Housing Coalition, Chaffee Housing Trust, Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority and the Chaffee County Housing Policy Advisory Committee.

Those interested in attending should RSVP to read@chaffeehousing.org.

The free community session has been organized in conjunction with the Colorado Mountain Housing Coalition’s two-day housing summit for housing advocates and community leaders. The larger event will bring together housing agencies from across the Central Mountain region to discuss their mutual challenges in trying to maintain workforce housing within rapidly changing resort areas such as Aspen, Durango, Telluride and Crested Butte as well as mountain communities like Rifle, Leadville and Salida. Among the workshops will be a keynote panel discussion on local funding and housing incentives and another on housing messaging in mountain and rural areas. A Tuesday morning session will feature a panel of state and federal candidates discussing their approaches to rural housing challenges.

Those interested in attending the main summit should contact Shirley Diaz at Shirley@smrha.org. Arrangements can be made to pay the $75 charge ($50 for nonprofits) on the day of the event.

The housing summit coincides with steps taken by Chaffee County to establish an Office of Housing and hire Becky Gray as director. Gray has convened a steering committee from members of the Housing Policy Advisory Committee to develop the county’s strategic plan by the end of November.

While Gray acknowledges that creating an environment that promotes and supports the development of affordable housing takes time, she believes that county efforts are well underway. “The HPAC and municipal leaders have done an excellent job of bringing housing affordability to the forefront of the community conversation,” said Gray. “The next step is to agree upon strategic interventions that will encourage affordable development.”

Among the proposed goals for the Office of Housing will be to incorporate education, collaboration, development, renovation and preservation into the strategic plan. The initial strategies will be presented during the monthly HPAC meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Colorado Mountain College campus in Buena Vista