Temporary board may be created to study issue
By Jennifer Rios
POSTED: 06/22/2016 05:19:30 PM MDT
A vision for Broomfield's Housing Advisory Board became more defined after city council delved into the issue during a study session this week.
Council met to follow up on a May study session where members learned about history of the Broomfield Housing Authority and its role, responsibilities and limits. At that meeting, council discussed the possibility of a volunteer board that could advise the board on affordable housing projects.
Several council members were in favor of creating a smaller, temporary board made up of four people to serve until March 2017 when residents are typically interviewed for boards and commissions. Another option is to create a larger board.
Council also talked about what sort of metric it could use to gauge success and a clearer idea of whom they would be helping.
"How can we get a picture of our goals if we don't know how much more we need?" Councilwoman Martha Derda asked.
Derda said she didn't feel a rush to create the board and would rather start with four people, which was a suggestion Councilman David Beacom made, and then wait to start a full board.
Affordable housing was not selected as a priority earlier this year, Derda said, although she knows it is important to everyone on council. It felt like more was getting done, faster, on this than other topics.
When selecting priorities, council created a "hot topic" category and listed affordable housing in that list.
Other council members seemed in favor of the larger board, made of seven community members and two council members, who serve longer terms.
Derda also asked exactly what Broomfield needs in terms of affordable housing projects, which as staff clarified, would be the first objective of a new board.
Members generally agreed that they wanted advisory board members to collect data and accounts of how other metro area cities are tackling affordable housing and examining how a certain project would or would not work for Broomfield.
They also made it clear they want to work with local nonprofits, including Broomfield FISH, Flatirons Habitat for Humanity and Foothills United Way.
When the concept of offering programs that would teach people to mentor residents financially, including how to create budgets, Deputy City and County Manager Kevin Standbridge reminded council that a lot of people who can't afford to live in Broomfield are successful.
"They're firefighters, they're teachers," he said. "To suggest they all need help is patronizing. Many are successful, competent people. It's a tough market."
Broomfield does offer housing counseling for residents interested in home ownership, he said.
Two groups of people were discussed — "someone who needs the proverbial helping hand," or working class who simply couldn't afford Broomfield's high housing costs.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans felt those two populations are "distinctly different" and that asked which group council wants to target.
"I had assumed from this memo we were talking about the first, someone who needs help for a certain period of time, but not necessarily ongoing," she said. "I'm sure I'm ready to start spending city resources on the second group without going to ask the voters if that's truly what they want."
Councilman Stan Jezierski offered a different perspective — he see council's role as helping residents as more long term.
"I didn't envision this to be us giving charity to someone who can't afford any housing," he said.
One part of the advisory board's mission could determine which groups need what types of services.
As it's proposed, the board would meet once a month. Staff and council aim to have a variety of professions represented on the board including a banker, realtor, housing developer, a member of the senior community, nonprofit representative and someone from the faith community.
A tentative timeline for a large board could mean advertising in July, setting up interviews in August and potentially seating members by early October.