County ponders big changes for housing issues
Big changes in the way Grand County addresses housing issues may soon be in the works.
Grand County’s Housing Authority will begin testing a potential multi-jurisdictional housing authority board that would draw together representatives from Grand County government, the various municipalities in the county, and some industry stakeholders like the Grand County Builders Association.
The issue was a topic of much discussion for the Grand County Commissioners Tuesday afternoon as part of a housing authority workshop. The workshop itself primarily revolved around a presentation by Grand County native and former Gunnison County Commissioner Paula Swenson on the housing authority board of Gunnison County and how that entity addressed housing issues.
Swenson, who incidentally went to high school with Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke, outlined some of the history of both Grand and Gunnison Counties’ respective housing authorities and the administrative dynamics of the two entities. Swenson highlighted the value of Gunnison’s multi-jurisdictional housing authority and cooperative dynamics it created.
“Realistically a lot of the housing is going to be built in municipalities, and not in the (unincorporated) county,” Swenson said. “We got everybody talking together at the same table.”
Swenson explained Gunnison’s housing authority is funded, in part, by the county and the three additional municipalities that make up the multi-jurisdictional advisory board, with each governmental entity contributing currently contributing around $87,000 to the housing authority budget annually.
Additionally, Gunnison County created an Advisory Board to help direct the actions of the housing authority’s governing board. The advisory board is made up various groups including industry stakeholders such as builders association’s, realtor boards, and property management businesses.
The purpose of Tuesday’s presentation, according to Grand County Housing Authority Coordinator Sheena Darland, was to provide the commissioners with the background of the current housing authority some broad ideas about actions Grand County’s authority can take to improve overall impacts.
“I would like to come out of this meeting knowing what the housing authority board (the Grand County Commissioners) wants for the authority,” Darland said. “What is the next step?”
Darland highlighted her desire for updated strategic planning goals, the establishment of an advisory board separate from the board of county commissioners, and a general direction the commissioners want the housing authority to move in the future. Darland asked the commissioners for permission to begin speaking with the municipalities and industry stakeholders of Grand County about potentially forming an advisory board or a multi-jurisdictional housing authority for the county.
“Let’s see what the interest is,” Commissioner Kristen Manguso said. “Check the temperature. Let’s start with sticking our toe in the pool. Just make sure your toe doesn’t freeze off.”
Commissioner Merrit Linke echoed her sentiments, recognizing the need to respect the autonomy of other local governments.
“Nothing would be worse than us going to the towns and saying we are going to do this, and you are going to do this,” Linke said. That won’t work. We need their buy in from the beginning.”
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The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed Colorado Highway 125 in Grand County while crews work to clear the route of mud, debris and snagged trees piled up on various bridges and guardrails.