More Options for Retirees in Affordable Housing

May 29, 2013

Credit Courtesy Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority

In Aspen, the city council has approved more flexibility for retirees who own affordable housing units. Starting June 30th, residents can leave for six months at a time--and they can rent out their homes while they’re gone.

At a council meeting on Tuesday night, the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority recommended the change for retirees. Tom McCabe is Executive Director.

“They could maintain their relationships, and perhaps their volunteer commitments to the community to six months a year, and they could go somewhere else for six months a year, give us that opportunity to rent that unit to a worker.”

Previously retirees could leave for up to three months--or longer, under certain circumstances. But they couldn’t rent out their homes. Again, Tom McCabe.

“It’s an idea whose time has come, considering how many people in the baby boom population are starting to move through our housing.”

Under the new change, retirees wanting to leave for six months have to get the go ahead from their HOA, too. City Council member Derek Johnson asked exactly who from the HOA would have to give approval. Executive Director Tom McCabe says it would have to be an HOA’s board.

“Homeowners Associations may be more or less receptive to the rentals. We don’t know how that’s going to work out. We’d rather them meet and talk about it and make sure they understand all the parameters you know, so that they don’t regret doing it.”

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting included time for public comments. Marcia Goshorn was the only person to do so. She’s on the board of the housing authority and supports changing the guidelines.

“It gives us the opportunity to create some seasonal housing that we might not have, without us having spend $350,000 per bed room, to build something new.”

Participating retirees could charge rent according to guidelines by the housing authority... money that could help seniors cover HOA fees and other expenses.  There wasn’t much opposition to the proposal, though two councilmen raised some questions. Torre was concerned about whether retirees might game the system to find a way to leave... and rent out... for a year. The housing authority said there wasn’t specific language to prevent that, but they would crack down on anyone who tries to. And if allowing retirees to leave for six months... and rent out their homes...turns out to have consequences, the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority says it’ll be cheap and easy to go back to what they were before.