Affordable housing monitored
BRECKENRIDGE Local housing officials have completed their annual review of deed restricted housing, trying to ensure that owners abide by the affordable housing covenants outlined in local regulations. According to a report on the monitoring effort, the Summit Housing Authority reviewed 484 deed restricted units in Breckenridge. All but 41 owners have provided the required documentation. Town officials so far have not been able to confirm whether the remaining 41 owners are in compliance with the deed restrictions.Summit Housing Authority program director Joanne Van Steenberghe said she doubts that all those owners are in violation. She said it’s more likely just a communication issue.Violations of local affordable housing rules have been in the spotlight recently, as the town of Breckenridge pursues legal action against an Indiana couple who bought a deed restricted home in the Wellington Neighborhood. The town alleges the owners violated the covenants from day one, never living in the home or working in Summit County, as required by the deed restriction. A trial date has been set for the end of March, while settlement talks have been held sporadically.Violations are punishable by fines of up to $100 per day in Breckenridge.The monitoring is conducted mainly by the Summit Housing Authority on behalf of the county and local towns, relying primarily on affidavits signed by owners, but also conducting a few random inspections and following up on complaints about specific violations.”Enforcement is up to the towns,” said Summit Housing Authority director Bonnie Osborn. Owners of deed restricted units are asked to sign an affidavit each year confirming that they are in compliance with the deed restriction. If the housing authority can’t contact the owners, the town follows up with a letter from the town attorney. The first letter is a polite request for information.”Then, if I don’t get compliance, the second letter gets a little more demanding,” town attorney Tim Berry said, explaining the enforcement process.Osborn said the housing authority didn’t notice any new problems cropping up during the most recent review. One recurring issue is the age of some restrictive covenants. Some of them, often relating to accessory units in older neighborhoods, are so old that owners are not even aware that such restrictions are in place. In some cases, the accessory units have been incorporated into the main dwelling units, Osborn said.Not only are local officials monitoring more units each year, but the complexity of the program has also been notched up, as the town and housing authority are now also looking at initial sale prices, affordability targets, resale prices, appreciation caps and capital improvements.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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