Owners of each of the 229 deed-restricted units in the Town of Telluride have started to receive notice that their compliance check paperwork is due. The checks, which occur every other year, are conducted to ensure that owners still qualify for their affordable housing. And, though the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic repercussions continue to rattle the region, housing officials are working to assure those affected that decreased — or lost — employment will not spell losing one’s home.
“The San Miguel Regional Housing Authority (SMRHA) would like to remind the community that this week marks the launch of the Town of Telluride’s biennial compliance check for deed-restricted property owners,” reads a message on the SMRHA website. “This is a routine check which is taking place during unprecedented times, and SMRHA is very sensitive to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on everyone. SMRHA would like to assure the community that this process is to ensure the affordable housing program is serving the people it was designed to assist and not to displace homeowners during these trying times.”
SMRHA Executive Director Corenna Howard doubled down on that message in a recent interview with the Daily Planet.
“It is not the intent of the compliance check … to remove people from their homes. Absolutely not,” she said. “We understand the impact that COVID has had on people’s lives.”
In fact, Howard said, if there are those who are struggling, she encourages people to contact her office.
“Please reach out to us,” she said. “We don’t want it to be stressful.”
Understanding how the pandemic has impacted the employment picture of those owning deed-restricted affordable housing can actually help officials offer assistance.
“That data can help us understand better what’s going on (with some homeowners),” Howard said.
During last week’s San Miguel Board of County Commissioners meeting, Telluride Mayor DeLanie Young said the compliance checks were a “good opportunity” to assist those living in deed-restricted homes in town who might be experiencing a loss of income.
“If a significant number of people are struggling, the results of the compliance checks will help us find resources to help people,” she said.
Filling out compliance check paperwork is required of everyone owning deed-restricted units within the Telluride R-1 School District. The housing authority collects information regarding residency, income, household minimums and other data points that are designed to ensure that affordable housing owners are still qualified to be in those homes. Examples of being out of compliance include one person living in a three-bedroom unit, an unreported move or job change, or making the bulk of one’s income from outside the district.
“If you’re under the household limit, we really want to use all three bedrooms for affordable housing,” Howard explained.
Affordable housing rules dictate that 75 percent of a deed-restricted homeowner’s income must be made within the district.
“The goal behind affordable housing is to add to the economic environment in Telluride,” she said.
Even if a homeowner falls out of compliance and is issued a notice of violation that does not spell automatic eviction.
“There’s a fair process,” Howard said. “You are given an opportunity to rectify a violation.”
Thus far, Howard said her office has not heard any negative feedback about the compliance checks. Owners of deed-restricted housing understand the checks are required, though the Daily Planet and some town staff and elected officials received emails from writers expressing dismay at the process. A search of the deed-restricted ownership database and county tax records, however, revealed that neither of the two who wrote to the Daily Planet owned property in the county. Neither writer responded to numerous written attempts seeking comment for this story.
Important reminders when completing the compliance questionnaire include: Complete all questions; input the deed restricted unit address at the top of each page; identify all household members; at least one member of the household who is an owner must be a qualified employee and meet the requirements of the Continuing Employment Standard; include all household members’ income and assets in the household income and net asset calculations; and have all signatures notarized.
For those needing further assistance in filling out the compliance check paperwork, there is a webinar posted on the SMRHA website. Howard said those without printers are more than welcome to use her office’s printer. Howard said the notices went out via email last week.
“This is routine,” she said. “We’re not going to remove you from your home.”
For more information, visit smrha.org or call 970-728-3034.