Print Friendly, PDF & Email

With the recent departure of Becky Gray, its founding Executive Director, the Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) is in transition mode, finding a new path while keeping the momentum of its programs and evolving board governance structure on track.

Craig Nielson, Board Chair, Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA). Courtesy photo

Working through a lengthy agenda on April 20, the CHA Board of Directors, unanimously passed four measures and heard committee reports before moving to go into executive session. Board Chair Craig Nielson led the session, assisted by Interim Executive Director Jeff Eaton.

Community Guidelines Receive Key Update

The Community Guidelines document has been a long time in development; most recently adopted on June 16, 2022. The board, however, has yet to reach a consensus on the largest sticking point; “Prioritization” for eligibility of affordable housing units.

Nielson invited Salida Community Development Director Bill Almquist to address the need for Deed Restriction Household Eligibility to be aligned with the City of Salida Inclusionary Housing (IH) requirements. Almquist said that this was a pressing matter, with two projects needing to have this resolved quickly. Then developers would know how (and to whom) they could sell the soon to be completed units and comply with IH requirements.

Speaking in public comment ahead of this topic, Salty Riggs, founder of the BETCH housing advocacy group again stated their group’s perception as to inequities in the weighted point system. The draft system remains controversial, even with recently suggested changes.

Her view was shared by CHA Director at Large, Monica Haskell, who further said that “Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training for the board,” was needed before finalizing the scoring system and updating the overall guidelines. Haskell urged that the Board consider countywide needs by bringing it back to the original stakeholder committee that worked on it. Nielson then agreed to workshop it again with stakeholders.

A Conundrum: Scarcity In A World Of Competing Needs

It is clear that the board will need to work through this issue to arrive at a consensus. To help arrive at that, Eaton suggested considering two scoring tables, one for renters and one for homeowners. The problem still remains: how to best allocate affordable housing units to those with the greatest need, when there are nowhere near enough units to meet the demand?

To keep the momentum going on at least the IH language critical to Salida, Director Dominique Naccarato moved that the Guidelines be amended only on page nine at this time. Specifically, she supported the section that spells out eligibility for IH to be tied to the number of bedrooms in a unit and a minimum number of occupants.

The goal of this language is to “maximize heads in beds” said Almquist (so that a single occupant is not tying up a 3-bedroom unit).  Included in the motion was language stating that the maximum number of occupants is governed by the building codes.  The amended motion was seconded by Director Eileen Rogers and passed unanimously.

Due to the depth of discussion on this topic, other agenda items were then tabled from this meeting to a future special session to allow time for an executive session.

Lodging Tax Reallocation Agreement

Completing the process approved by voters in the November 2022 election, the board formally accepted the Chaffee County Lodging Tax Reallocation Funding Agreement. The ballot measure behind this provides for up to 60 percent of annual county lodging tax revenues to be used for housing and childcare for the tourism-related workforce, seasonal and other local workers and enhancing visitor experiences.

The CHA had requested $260,000 for 2023 from the newly established Lodging Tax Reallocation Fund (LTRF) to support CHA affordable housing programs and provide collateral for debt service on the Jane’s Place housing project, now under construction. The request was recently approved by the Board of County Commissioners with the guidance that the majority of monies are to be spent towards Jane’s Place, to help reduce the debt burden, keeping the units more affordable. By approving the agreement with the county, CHA agreed to spend these funds by Jan. 31, 2024 or any balance will be returned to the county.

Special Limited Partnership Policy

The Special Limited Partnership (SLP) Policy creates a framework, criteria, and process for how the CHA will enter into SLPs with public or private developers. Simply stated, in these arrangements, the developer takes all risks, the CHA has a .01 percent ownership interest, the developer receives a tax break and deed restrictions are attached to the units, helping ensure long-term affordability.

Eaton said he had no firsthand experience with SLPs but that they are now gaining acceptance. CHA Vice Chair Joseph Teipel said “It gets deed restrictions in place without having to rely on other subsidies”, indicating it is a way to more quickly get affordable units built.  Eaton reported that there are five developers interested in the concept, spread between Salida and Buena Vista.

Having the agreement allows a developer to know how to better cost out a project while giving the CHA a common platform to fine-tune any negotiations, moving more quickly, without reinventing the wheel each time.

New Entity Formed – CHT – CHA, LLC

Related to the SLP Policy, it may be mutually beneficial on occasion for the Chaffee Housing Authority to partner with the Chaffee Housing Trust (CHT), with the latter being the developer of for-sale housing units. To provide a legal structure for such partnerships, a new entity was approved for creation, the “CHT – CHA, Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).”

Once filed with the Secretary of State, the entity and the operating agreement provides that the CHT handles the administration, any annual filings and that CHT must report to the CHA (as an equal member of the LLC), verifying that the CHA income qualifications have been met for CHT units.

Committee Reports

The Community Engagement Committee reported that excavation is underway at Jane’s Place and that a celebration event is planned for April 28. Due to space limitations at the site, the event is by invitation only. Elected officials from the Salida City Council and Board of County Commissioners are expected to attend.

Speaking for the Finance Committee, Director Eileen Rogers and CHA Deputy Director Mike Bischoff reported progress with Chaffee County staff in developing financial reports that are meaningful for the CHA board. They plan to have such documents available for the May meeting and are also investigating the use of QuickBooks to help with CHA internal accounting.

Executive Session

At approximately 6:20 p.m. the Board moved to go into executive session to discuss a presentation by Ashley Kappel, Executive Director candidate, to be followed by a hiring committee recommendation and potential vote. Added to the executive session was an earlier item (moved from the amended regular agenda), meant to discuss a Conflict of Interest Policy. The policy draft was said to include language constrained by “attorney-client privilege”, thus qualifying for a closed session.

CHA board meetings are generally scheduled for the third Thursday of each month and dates and agendas are posted on the Chaffee County home page in the “Calendar” section.