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Emergency help for apartment dwellers

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Housing took center stage at the most recent Basalt Town Council meeting. With the pandemic ongoing and its associated economic downturn, affording rent is increasingly a challenge in the Roaring Fork Valley.
In November and December 2020, the Basalt Affordable Community Housing group (BACH), first formed in 2009, provided emergency rental assistance to persons living in Basalt’s affordable housing properties like Roaring Fork Apartments. Six families were helped to the total tune of $10,000.
BACH is a formal advisory commission to the Town Council on all matters related to affordable and community housing.
BACH staff member Sara Nadolny noted that the program will continue in 2021, with the council having approved another $10,000. Nadolny also reported that the 2020 effort “was pretty successful,” and she points to the comments of one family that called the program “a life changing experience.”
Nadolny explained the emergency program is meant to provide gap funding and help leverage support from other available resources, because “the help is desperately needed.” Additional sources of support include Catholic Charities, Swift Eagle Charitable Foundation, Pitkin County and the state’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program.
Mayor Bill Kane then asked, “Is this enough?”
Nadolny replied, “Probably not,” elaborating that she was worried. “We need to watch for if and when the dance with the moratorium on evictions ends.”
Mayor Kane called the program “a note of sensitivity and compassion.”
Council member Elyse Hottel was concerned about prioritizing who gets the help, “We need to put in the application what industry [the applicant is] involved in, as restaurant workers are more affected than people in the personal service area.”
The council also agreed they were not particularly hopeful the needs will drop off in 2021. The State of Colorado is also addressing landlord needs directly: through the Property Owner Preservation initiative (POP). If you or your tenants are unable to pay rent due to financial hardship caused by COVID, you may be eligible for rental assistance from the state. More information, including eligibility requirements, is at dola.colorado.gov
Basalt Council is also looking to add more rental affordable housing.
A rental apartment complex, Emma Flats, at the east end of Emma Road, proposed by Front Fork Basalt LLC, presented its sketch plan for the council’s review. Of the 12 units, three are planned to be deed-restricted, category two affordable housing.
The company also asked for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) amendment to allow for a fully residential building instead of the combined commercial and residential requirement, and a 32 foot height instead of the 30 foot height in the PUD.
After council discussion, the site plan was approved with a caveat that allows for further examination of the height change proposal and the request for additional parking spaces.
On other topics, council approved two grants for local student mental health support. The first was a three-year, $150,000 agreement with Hope Center using substantial tobacco tax revenue for therapy assistance, a 24-hour Hope Line, and additional support for residents affected by a crisis. The other grant is $100,000 for a combined effort by the Hope Center and Basalt Elementary School for mental and behavioral health programs.

Tags: #affordable housing #BACH #Basalt Affordable Community Housing #Basalt Elementary School #Basalt Town Council #Emma Flats
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