Breckenridge looks to expand Housing Helps program |

Breckenridge looks to expand Housing Helps program

Proposal would add additional deed-restriction options at varying rates of compensation for homeowners

The Blue 52 workforce housing project in Breckenridge is pictured April 16, 2018. The town of Breckenridge is looking into modifying its Housing Helps program to provide more options to locals looking to add a deed restriction to their homes.
Photo by Hugh Carey / Summit Daily News archive

The town of Breckenridge is looking to modify and expand its Housing Helps program to make it more accessible.

In its current form, Housing Helps allows someone without an existing deed restriction to add one on their home, and the town will pay the owner 15% of the home’s market value to do so. The deed restriction simply requires that the unit is occupied by a resident who works in the county — either the owner themselves or a tenant.

“Providing them with those funds, we think that’s probably covering the reduction in value that their property would experience due to the deed restriction,” town housing manager Laurie Best said. “We’re assuming that the price that they will be able to resell it for is probably somewhere (between) 10% to 15% impact on their property value, and so we’re kind of just paying them that in advance.”

Best said staff has discussed preliminary changes to the program to expand who has access to it.

One possible issue with the current program is that if there is already a deed restriction on the house the homeowner is not eligible for the program. Best said there are a variety of different deed restrictions throughout the town, and some owners have expressed interest in adding a stricter restriction to their property in order to be compensated through the program.

The proposed changes would create a tiered system so that folks can be paid different percentages based on the type of deed restriction they are willing to put on their home. Best said the town would consider paying more than 15% if a local wants to add a stricter deed restriction with an appreciation, income or rental cap. Basically, the program would become a three-tiered system, with the lightest restrictions receiving less than 15%, the current Housing Helps deed restriction receiving 15% and stronger restrictions receiving more.

She ran the idea by Breckenridge Town Council at its Aug. 24 meeting, and council gave staff the go ahead to explore options.

“These are all very preliminary … but we’re certainly going to explore them, because the more of the existing inventory that we can see deed restricted, the more it is preserved for locals in perpetuity,” Best said. “The Housing Helps program is a really important program for us to sort of protect some of that existing inventory, and so if we can expand the program to make it more functional and more usable, then that’s what we want to look into.”

Since launching the Housing Helps program in December 2019, the town of Breckenridge has spent $1.06 million to add 23 deed restrictions.

Best said the program is a great way for the town to ensure there is more local housing in the community without spending nearly as much money as it would cost to build new units. She said the town pays around $40,000 per deed restriction while building a new unit could cost around $300,000.

“The cost of that deed restriction is just a fraction of what it would cost to build one unit, so it’s a really cost-efficient use of the town’s funds to utilize housing capital to acquire deed restrictions,” Best said. “And so if we can expand the program and make it more viable for additional property owners, we view that as a win-win.”

At the Town Council meeting, many locals came to speak in public comment on the council’s conversation about capping short-term rentals. But one resident spoke about how the Housing Helps program allowed him to move to Breckenridge.

“The reason why I was able to move here was because of the Housing Helps program,” Patrick Murphy said in the meeting. “The landlords that I have now deed-restricted the house, and me and three other employees in the town of Breckenridge were able to move here, and I have the intention to stay here.”

Best said the town also works in conjunction with the county to add deed restrictions to homes in unincorporated areas in close proximity to Breckenridge in the Upper Blue basin. She said this reduces costs even more for the town as it splits the payment with the county.

In order for these program changes to be implemented, Best said town staff will have to take some time to draft the new guidelines, which will then go through Town Council. She estimated new program recommendations will be brought to council in about four to six weeks.

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