The Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA) updated its regulations, codifying longstanding policies relating to and honing in on the eligibility of remote workers.
The updates, which passed on first reading on Nov. 15, passed at the APCHA Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday with just one amendment, which clarified: Remote workers and workers who work less than 1,500 hours a year providing goods and services to Pitkin County residents businesses operational institutions do not qualify.
After a bit of back and forth, the board decided to approve the updates as written and amended with the understanding that they would drill further into the definition of “remote worker” in upcoming meetings.
Board member Alycin Bektesh worried the process was moving too quickly as different interpretations of “remote worker” were brought up.
“I think they’re we’re not even in agreement right now, this is moving just a little too fast,” she said.
But ultimately the board decided they needed to give APCHA staff a tool to address the wave of remote workers who moved out of cities and into rural areas like Pitkin County during and after the COVID-19 pandemic that think they qualify for APCHA housing.
“I think that we can come up with endless scenarios of if and how it might affect someone,” Board Chair Carson Schmitz said. “I think this is currently written to address a lot of the remote workers we are seeing, people who do not work for a Pitkin County employer; they moved here because they said they have a job, and they think they qualify. For me, this gives staff something to support.”
For the update, allowing employer-owned units flexibility in renting to tenants outside of the unit’s category, he said that APCHA will work with the City of Aspen and Pitkin County on devising a long-term solution for these employers and units, as category designation is part of the land use process.
Many of the updates, including the “home trade” item, are not changes to regulations but an effort to get existing policy explicitly in writing to help staff explain regulations to residents, APCHA Executive Director Matthew Gillen said.
The updates only received one public comment.
The resolution passed 6-1, with board member Alycin Bektesh voting “No” due to concerns over public outreach and holding off on defining “remote worker.”
Here is a summary of the 11 updates:
- Receiving a public benefit
- Keeping with Colorado state law that “lawful presence is not a requirement for eligibility for state or local public benefits, which are defined to include “public or assisting housing.”
- Update on Part III, APCHA eligibility and qualification
- For workers with employers outside of Pitkin County and the self-employed, 75% of income earned must be from goods and services provided to Pitkin County residents/businesses/operational institutions.
- Continued obligation to keep APCHA informed
- APCHA workforce housing residents are obligated to inform APCHA of changes to in employment, household members, and personal communication methods.
- Verification documents
- APCHA will accept a Colorado Driver’s license with the black line stating it is not valid for federal identification, voting or public benefit.
- Income calculation
- Clarification on residents’ income calculation, particularly the self-employed: APCHA will determine that a person’s annual income is equal to at least Colorado minimum wage multiplied by 1,500 hours.
- Employer designated units
- Providing flexibility to employers who own units to rent to their employees who are at a higher category than the unit’s designation.
- Net bedroom gain from the transaction in the rightsizing program
- Clarification to conveyances outside the bid process
- Changing title of an ownership unit by conveyance to any form of trust or corporate entity (e.g., LC, Inc, PC, etc.) is not permitted.
- In complex priority
- Bidders who already live within a complex can bid at or above their category within that complex (in an effort to maintain community).
- Prohibition on home trades on a short-term basis
- In-kind rent is not permitted.
- Hearing officer
- Written decision can come 60 days after a hearing to allow for preparation of a transcript, which can take two weeks to 45 days
The regulation updates take effect one day after their passage. A detailed list of the updates is available at the APCHA website.