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Dear Editor,

The lack of affordable housing in Chaffee County has been an issue for decades. Years ago, locals started the long process of working towards solutions. The Housing Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) grew organically and advocated for what became the County Office of Housing. A talented and experienced director, Becky Gray, was hired. She led the community-wide process of developing consensus, creating the Chaffee Housing Authority, building a Board of Directors of local citizens, and hiring staff to get to work. They now have a plan and programs, ready for action.

This intentional and methodical process, with buy-in from Buena Vista, Salida, and the County, has all been by-design. Having the capacity to tackle this persistent issue has been essential to have in place so that we can proceed with purpose. The last piece of the puzzle is reliable, recurring funding which can be leveraged with other resources to build homes. We don’t need to look beyond our county borders for help. This is our challenge.

Ballot Measure 6A is the most equitable and appropriate means to building solutions. A mill levy increase distributes the burden proportionately, most impacting high-value property owners who are most able to afford it. The impact on commercial properties is the result of the Gallagher Amendment, not something that we can affect here and now. But local businesses will be the first to benefit from affordable housing, giving them a stable workforce that can afford to live here based on prevailing wages. This will lead to a stronger local economy, that brings increased sales tax dollars to provide services to us all. Now is the time to seize the opportunity and get us on a path to actually building affordable homes for our local workers and current residents.

We often hear opinions of why we should vote against funding housing, but absent are suggestions for solutions. The Market has failed to resolve it, and in fact has made it worse. It’s time for us all to join in sharing the burden of making housing accessible to locals, to workers who keep our businesses staffed, and to maintain the diverse character of our community.

Be part of the solution, vote yes on 6A.

Read McCulloch
Executive Director
Chaffee Housing Trust