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A nearly seven hour meeting on June 27 concluded in a yes vote from all three Jefferson County commissioners to continue to accept federal money for affordable housing.
The monies in consideration were the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
Housing problems are not new issues in Jefferson County, said Commissioner Donald Rosier.
“We've known this for years,” he said.
Making the commissioners' annual decision on funding for affordable housing more complex this year is the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule, which includes a requirement for certain HUD grantees to conduct an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) planning process.
However, the county has until 2020, when the contract will be executed, to opt out, should it find a better solution to funding affordable housing.
An amendment was added to the commissioners' decision stating that Jefferson County will continue its regular affordable housing assessments while developing a plan to start weaning itself off of federal funding.
The commissioners made their decision after hearing from more than 50 people during the public hearing portion of the meeting, who included representatives from local nonprofits and faith-based groups, teachers, housing developers, Jeffco residents and recipients of housing assistance.
“These funds are an investment in our communities,” said Kathleen O'Leary, the executive director of the Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity in Evergreen. She added Blue Spruce has built 32 homes with HOME and CDBG funds.
Five Jefferson County mayors spoke in favor of accepting the funds: Wheat Ridge Mayor Joyce Jay, Edgewater Mayor Kris Teegardin, Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul, Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison and Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan.
Jay, Teegardin and Paul pointed out that cities need affordable housing to attract businesses and employers, while Atchison spoke on affordable housing projects already in process and Sloan said that all of a community contributes and benefits from affordable housing.
All citizens contribute to the funds through tax dollars, Sloan said, and it would not be fair for them not to be reinvested in the community they live in.
Opposition came from about five speakers, who mentioned that local housing issues are best dealt with by leaving federal funding and government out.
Kim Monson, a Lone Tree resident and former Lone Tree city councilor, pointed out that Douglas County voted not to accept the funding.
“Imagine if we cut out the bureaucratic middle man … and let charities do what they do best — help people,” Monson said.
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