Frisco reviews ways to increase workforce housing, add deed restrictions to properties to meet 2027 goal

A rainbow hangs over Main Street in Frisco June 23 around 8 p.m. The town is assessing ways in which it supports workforce housing since second-home owners and short-term rentals have reduced housing stock for employees needed to keep local businesses staffed.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

Town staff delivered an in-depth presentation to councilors Tuesday, July 27, on summaries and methods for improving the town’s housing problem.

Five in-the-works housing projects, several housing strategies and some future projections were delivered with the hope of getting the town to its 2027 goal of 306 deed-restricted units.

“Within one block of my house there have been 11 workforce units that have now been sold, scrapped. None of the proposed redevelopment have a single workforce unit, and unless we do something that’ll be our future,” Frisco Mayor Hunter Mortensen said.

The goal of Tuesday’s work session was to update council on the town’s housing program. No action was proposed or taken, although town staff did propose a few recommendations for council to mull over until its next housing conversation.

Since 2021, the town has sought to double its deed-restricted properties by 2027. Based on a roadmap presented by Housing Program Manager Danelle Cook, the town would like to reach 177 deed-restricted units in 2023, 213 in 2024, 268 in 2025, 303 in 2026 and 328 in 2027, which would exceed the 2027 goal by 22 units.

“The road to success is heavily dependent on three strategies which are new construction, density bonus and Housing Helps,” she said.

That plan has myriad of ways it could go. It could involve property acquisitions, zoning changes, buy-downs, town-assisted leases, prefabricated accessory dwelling units, commercial linkages and changes to traditional housing concepts. The town could also consider more amendments to its short-term rental regulations, which it recognized in a staff report “may not have an immediate impact on availability or affordability of workforce housing units but may result in some stabilization of the local housing market.”

As part of her presentation, Cook showed council how some of the town’s current methods have fared.

Housing Helps

The town will pay for the homeowner to place a deed restriction on their property, requiring the resident to work an average of at least 30 hours a week in the county as part of its Housing Helps program. The town has five ways it can go about that: the town can provide downpayment assistance to a home buyer; the town can help an existing homeowner purchase a deed restriction; the town can purchase a home for sale, place a deed restriction on it and resell it; and the town can provide monetary assistance to a homeowner to construct an accessory dwelling unit. The town can also partner with the county on any of the above methods.

The town completed two Housing Helps purchases in 2021 and three in 2022 so far.

The town budgeted $1.5 million in 2022 for Housing Helps purchases. Cook said most was spent and only $45,000 remains in the budget.

Glad to see the program used, council Andrew Aerenson said, “I do remember saying way back when we started Housing Helps, ‘I can’t wait till you guys blow the budget and come back to us.’ So, good job.”

Staff proposed that Town Council consider whether to increase the Housing Helps budget for the remainder of the year.

Frisco Housing Locals

“We haven’t seen this program reach a high level of success yet,” Cook said about Frisco’s Housing Locals program.

Presently, the program has only been used three times, Cook said.

Under the program, the town signs a master lease with the property owner guaranteeing the unit will rent long term. The contract guarantees the property owner will receive rent and cost of damages.

The program has not seen success for several reasons, according to Cook. First, the town competes with the county’s own master lease program. Second, most unit sizes don’t align with the needs of town employees since most employees are looking for one- and two-bedroom units, but most units available through the program come in three- and four-bedroom sizes. Also, the program is only available to town employees.

Staff recommended council expand the Housing Locals program to include employees with local businesses in addition to town employees. In that circumstance, the business would sign the master lease, Cook said, but the town would still facilitate the program, acting as an intermediary.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.