Over a month later, Summit County and Breckenridge’s Lease to Locals program houses 32 people | SummitDaily.com

Over a month later, Summit County and Breckenridge’s Lease to Locals program houses 32 people

County hits goal of converting at least 15 units

Park Place Plaza on Four O'Clock Road in Breckenridge is pictured on Sunday, Sept. 5. Short-term rentals in Breckenridge and in unincorporated Summit County are eligible to participate in the Lease to Locals program, which converts rental units into housing for the local workforce.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

When Summit County set off on creating a pilot program that would convert short-term rental units into long-term housing for the workforce, it was primarily to stop the bleeding in the hopes that units otherwise unavailable to locals would suddenly open up.The program, a partnership between Summit County and Breckenridge dubbed Lease to Locals, officially launched on Oct. 15.

The program is divided into a couple phases. The first was to last through Dec. 15 or until the program got 15 units, whichever comes first. This phase offers the highest dollar amount in incentives, mainly because the county is striving to get units converted as quickly as possible before the beginning of the ski season.

“This was an emergency pilot program to try to free up housing from the short-term rental market that didn’t currently exist,” Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz said.

Dietz confirmed that 16 units have been converted, which is currently housing 27 workforce housing employees and their families, or a total of 32 people. Seven of these units are located within unincorporated Summit County and nine are located in Breckenridge. Dietz said he hopes to have an additional five converted and added to the pool before the end of the month.

Rent per employee is $1,030 per month on average. About 75% of the leases are for 12 months.

Though any amount of converted bedrooms is a win for the program and helps offer units to a workforce struggling to find stable and affordable housing, Dietz said he had hoped that the program’s start would have garnered more conversions.

“I had very high aspirations for the program and was hoping to maybe do more, but realizing how late we kicked it off in the season, we had a lot of things working against us,” he said.

For starters, the program kicked off just before the ski and holiday season, meaning many short-term rental units likely already had reservations on the books. Additionally, Dietz said he expected that the majority of converted units would be working with a property management company, while in reality this only applied to about 37% of units.

As for how much the county has spent on the program, Dietz confirmed that it’s paid about $7,000 in incentives per bedroom on average. According to a previous presentation about the project, the incentive starts at $7,000 for a yearlong studio lease and goes up to $20,000 for a three-bedroom unit or larger. The county has paid about $210,000 in incentives in total.

While this may seem like a lot, Dietz compared the numbers to other housing projects. The county is spending about $9,000 to $10,000 per bedroom for its master lease with Alpine Inn in Frisco. For its Housing Helps program, it typically spends about $30,000 to $40,000 per bedroom. The cost to build a rental room is typically between $250,000 and $300,000 per bedroom, not including the cost of land and some other expenses.

It’s these incentives that made the program worthwhile for Denver resident Scott Bilyeu, who bought his two-bedroom, one-bath condo in Breckenridge in June. Bilyeu bought his condo with plans to short-term rent it for passive income. He expected to generate about $40,000 in gross income, but when he heard about the county’s incentives, he said it made more sense, especially since it provided stability for both him and locals.

“I knew I had displaced some long-term renters and the people that wanted to rent my place for the year, the same thing was happening to them,” Bilyeu said. “They were getting kicked out of their unit and were kind of desperate. Providing stability for them felt good and the stability for me — it was just kind of a win-win.”

Bilyeu said the process of finding his tenants was easy and that he had generated a lot of interest with just a simple Facebook post. Eventually, he and his two tenants agreed to $2,500 per month split between the two of them. They moved in Nov. 1.

In general, Bilyeu said he has been satisfied with the program so far and that he is curious about what will happen in the future once this lease is up. For now, he said he is glad to be part of the small group helping to house some of the workforce.

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