Dillon Town Council eyes rental assistance and lease-to-locals incentives to boost workforce housing

Apartments and condominiums overlooking Dillon Reservoir are pictured in April 2020 in Dillon. The town is continuing discussions about further steps to increase workforce housing.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

Dillon Town Council members are continuing discussions about further steps to increase workforce housing within the town.

Town staff presented various options to the council for consideration. One would work similarly to Breckenridge’s Buy-Down Program. The town of Dillon would buy a housing unit at full price and then resell to a member of the local workforce at a reduced rate. The home would also have a deed restriction to ensure it’s available for the workforce. 

Council members said they were more interested in buying property and then renting it to Dillon locals rather than buying property and then reselling it at a lower price. Whether as rentals or for-sale stock, properties that the town of Dillon would buy would have deed restrictions such as a requirement to work at least 30 hours in Summit County. 

“I think our top priority I’m getting out of this conversation in town is, No. 1, to own the property so it keeps the equity and builds equity, but then we’re also considering the monthly rent subsidy needed for people in rentals,” Mayor Carolyn Skowyra said.

Another option that council members were interested in exploring was creating its own version of the county’s Lease to Locals program, which incentivizes property owners to rent long term to the local workforce rather than short-term rent to visitors. To do this, one idea would be for the town to pay the property owner 20% of the market value up to $150,000 in exchange for a deed restriction. The payment would be in monthly stipends as long as the home houses the local workforce.

“After evaluation with the Combined Housing Authority, it was determined that light deed restriction really wasn’t meeting the goals of making sure that that unit stays in the active workforce,” Town Manager Nathan Johnson said. “So one of the things that they encouraged us to look at was that full deed restriction that has an appreciation cap, has a working component, and then (the town) pays them accordingly.”

The discussions Tuesday, Oct. 18, were a continuation of previous work sessions on how to further support expanding access to housing in Dillon. In September, Town Council members divided various strategies into three options: build, buy and assist. Because building costs are still high, council members at that meeting said that building new units would not be the best short-term solution.

The town’s housing fund, or 5A funds, generates approximately $1 million per year with a current fund balance of around $5.5 million, according to a staff report. The 5A funding was recently extended by the voters for an additional 20 years and will expire in 2046.

In June, Town Council members approved an increase for the town’s down payment assistance loan program, which allows employees of the town to receive a loan for a down payment of a home. On Tuesday, council also approved a resolution to expand access to the program for employees who are in the process of selling their current residential property. Staff said that this would allow employees moving into the county to receive assistance and encourage them to move potentially from deed-restricted homes to free market ones. 

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