The Roundup: A weekly roundup of Aspen Journalism's original stories
A weekly letter from the newsroom and roundup of Aspen Journalism’s original stories.
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Smuggler, a privately owned rental trailer park dating to the 1970s, became one of the local affordable-housing system’s first RO neighborhoods in the mid-1980s. Owners aren’t subject to income or asset maximums, and there’s no appreciation limit on the properties. Residents must use the home as their primary residence, which in Smuggler’s case is defined as six months a year. Photo by Daniel Bayer. Credit: Daniel Bayer/Aspen Journalism

Recently at Aspen Journalism we were pleased to publish a two-part look at the ownership inventory under the purview of the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority. 

The series from our Data Desk Editor Laurine Lassalle and freelancer Catherine Lutz, a veteran local journalist, began with an open records request to APCHA for information on all 1,652 deed-restricted ownership units in the system. We compiled a searchable, sortable database of the units, including owner name, address, subdivision, category, last sale price and market value, using that information to take a deeper look at what makes up one of the most important community assets existing in Pitkin County. 

It’s clear that this stock of housing — where just under 20% of Pitkin County’s year-round population resides — is important to the community, based on the sheer numbers. But there’s something more. The ability to own a home, affordable to those who work in the community, might be the strongest incentive there is to hold on, stick it out, keep playing “the lottery” (the system by which the chance to buy the properties is doled out) because eventually something will work out. Certainly the absence of that kind of opportunity would make it much harder to maintain the community we have today.

But there are still issues to work through. We spilled plenty of ink in part two of the series unraveling the “resident occupied” APCHA category, which supports a growing number of million-dollar residences that one must be a local worker to purchase. Once you’re in that segment of the market, there isn’t really anywhere else to go. 

Should there be a part three of the series, I hope we will tackle the challenges in the lower-priced units, where price caps tied to inflation limit homeowners’ ability to reinvest in their properties.

But in the meantime, we invite you to spend some time with the series. Check out the table, find your own home or those of friends and family. Get a better sense of the parts that make up the whole.

Thanks for reading, and supporting, Aspen Journalism.

With gratitude,
– Curtis Wackerle
Editor and executive director

Recent reporting from Aspen Journalism
Credit: Catherine Lutz/Aspen Journalism

Inventory shows who lives in APCHA deed-restricted ownership housing

1,652 units serve a wide swath of the community

By Laurine Lassalle and Catherine Lutz

January 6, 2023

The APCHA ownership inventory can be viewed in two market segments. One, with fewer restrictions on owner qualifications and valuations, is managed under the “resident occupied” (RO) category. The second, larger segment, with price caps determined via a set of categories based on buyers’ income and assets, saw median pricing in 2021 that was less than half of the median RO sale price.

Continue reading…

Credit: Daniel Bayer/Aspen Journalism

APCHA’s RO category supports a growing number of million-dollar homes 

Rules and pricing can vary by neighborhood in second-largest subset of local ownership affordable housing.

By Laurine Lassalle and Catherine Lutz

January 7, 2023

The concept of RO — housing locals who don’t otherwise fit into the numbered categories and accommodating properties that also couldn’t easily be categorized — is an important one in one of the country’s most robust affordable-housing programs. But, is it working?

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Tracking the Curve

Eagle County has reported 36 new COVID-19 cases since last week. Garfield County has added 31 cases, while Pitkin County has recorded 18 cases since Jan. 4.

By Laurine Lassalle

January 12, 2023

Wastewater data shows that Aspen and Glenwood Springs’s viral loads spiked after Christmas. Levels are now getting back down.

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Data dashboard: Roaring Fork basin snowpack reaches 126% of average 

18.1 inches of SWE recorded at Schofield Pass

By Laurine Lassalle

January 11, 2023

• Snowpack reached 149.1% of average at McClure Pass on Jan. 8.
• Lake Powell’s elevation is 4.8 inches below critical water level.

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Curtis Wackerle

Curtis Wackerle

Curtis Wackerle is the editor and executive director of Aspen Journalism and the editor and reporter on the Connie Harvey Environment Desk. Curtis has also served as editor, managing editor, and reporter...