Summit Combined Housing Authority overhaul moves ahead; disbanding option off table
December 7, 2016
The planned reorganization of the Summit Combined Housing Authority proceeded Wednesday morning as the agency's board of directors met to decide its future framework and purpose.
Appointed representatives from the county, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne were on hand to discuss three organizational structures proposed by county staff late last month. One of those options would basically eliminate the entity, tasked with helping members of the community obtain long-term housing, in all but name. But that alternative was taken off the table almost immediately into the three-hour huddle, and instead the 10 decision-makers veered toward maintaining the present shape with some tweaks.
Each member will now bring the proposed direction back to their respective councils for feedback and further counsel ahead of another work session in two weeks. Once a final determination is made, the next step will be hiring a new agency lead to replace interim executive director Nicole Bleriot, who is in the office after the contentious departure of longtime head Jennifer Kermode in October.
"I'm not sure the structure was broken," said Rick Holman, Breckenridge's town manager, "but we were never operating under the structure. That's the problem I had. I would personally like to give that a shot — operating the way it's intended."
"(My council) basically would like to keep the current structure," added Frisco Councilwoman Kim Cancelosi. "They feel like it definitely is a workable plan and they like that. But there is some concern there's still some things that happen outside of the board. They're very concerned that things are split up and you've got discussions being had in other organization groups."
In preserving that model, the board also made the decision to continue the advisory group made up of various community members. The questions remaining about the outfit moving forward are how often it would attend regular board meetings — most likely quarterly — what its composition might look like to better reflect the community, and what kind of specialties and counsel its members will lend. The need for construction, financing and real estate guidance were those pinpointed Wednesday.
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"Our voters just gave us a construction fund," said County Commissioner Thomas Davidson, the board chair. "Going forward, there's a bunch of work we have to do collectively. We can't have five different jurisdictions working in isolation on development projects and think that some way, somehow we will be addressing the needs analysis. We (can't) insulate ourselves from each other's housing problems."
Putting internal support services — such as human resources, legal, accounting and marketing — under one roof was another goal of the discussion. Those tasks will now fully land with the county government, — with the exception of the occasional contractor on a project-by-project basis — which was viewed by most as best positioned to take on the role. The idea is to create increased staff and resource efficiencies to save money where possible.
Most of the lengthy conversation's focus was on what specific duties the housing authority should fulfill for its affiliate municipalities — with both Montezuma and Blue River likely becoming full members at some point in 2017. All agreed the organization should continue handling income and employment verification for housing applications, resale calculations for homeowners and annual deed monitoring throughout the county.
Down-payment assistance programs and homebuyer education courses for first-time owners were also high on the list for retained duties. The same goes for loan service payoffs, real estate sales and strengthened assistance for walk-up customers trying to locate rentals and buy properties.
Bleriot called the agency's present inability to comprehensively outline available deed-restricted units in the county "a little embarrassing." Board members nodded their heads, concurring that should be a fundamental service any housing authority offers.
The housing authority's board next plans to meet on Monday, Dec. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon to wrap up these deliberations. Its next regular meeting, which includes the advisory group, is scheduled for Jan. 25.