Summit County housing authority director reflects on first year
There are few issues mired in more complexity than housing in Summit County. It requires balancing the housing needs of the county against what makes this place great — the open spaces, forests and mountains. Managing those needs is only for people willing to take on steep challenges, and Summit County Combined Housing Authority director Jason Dietz is one of those people.
Dietz, who was hired to be the housing authority director last year, came to the position from a background in development, new home construction and property management. Taking on the role of housing authority director came with a steep learning curve.
“I’ve been working in private sector for all of my career, so it’s been a good learning experience,” Dietz told the Summit Daily. “I’ve been learning about all the collaboration among all the different jurisdictions that is needed as executive director of the housing authority. I report to a board of directors that has representatives from all of the towns and the county, so we represent the entire Summit community.”
As director, Dietz oversees management of an agency that helps people with loans for down payments, educates potential homeowners about lending and mortgages, and holds watch over the deed-restricted inventory in the county. The housing authority also provides feedback on issues such as new housing development and existing housing inventory management. Dietz said that he has learned about the unique challenges for housing in Summit, and just how hard it is to tackle them.
“We have lots of housing challenges in Summit County and resort areas in general,” Dietz said. “There’s no one silver bullet to solve the housing problem. That’s why it’s so critical that nonprofits, business and jurisdictions collaborate to develop multiple avenues for housing development here. People want to be here for the same reasons housing is difficult to obtain. We have natural geographical constraints like mountains, lakes and rivers, as well as great open space, but all of that tends to preclude land for development.”
To continue the collaborative process, a housing summit will take place on June 11 that will bring together all the town and county partners to talk about progress on housing issues and where to lay groundwork for projects in the year to come.
“It’s a great way to get town and county decision makers to talk about housing related issues,” Dietz said. “That means local governments, nonprofits, the business community and the school district getting together to come up with ideas and potential paths to explore for housing.”
Dietz said that due to the limited time available to present and discuss these items at the summit, four main points of emphasis will take up the agenda.
First on the agenda is addressing a critical lack of housing units for people who have incomes lower than the average median income required to qualify for affordable housing. Second, how to engage and incentivize the private sector to open up more affordable-housing opportunities. Third, how to address inconsistencies in the rules for deed-restricted housing, which can be confusing for the public. Finally, the summit will address the short-term rental industry in the county, the impact it is having on the housing market and seeing what approaches towns are taking to short-term rentals that may be effective elsewhere.
The housing summit will take place on June 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Summit County Community & Senior Center at 83 Nancy’s Place in Frisco. Seating will be limited, and Dietz asked that members of the public who wish to attend RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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