Friday, February 22, 2013

Housing Authority: No homeowners, please

Organization changes ownership guidelines

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Housing Authority changed its guidelines Wednesday to exclude affordable-housing applicants who already own homes in Blaine County. 

“Our mission is to provide home ownership to low-income people,” Executive Administrator David Patrie said. “If someone already owns a home, they are outside of our mission.”

Patrie said when he was hired onto the Housing Authority staff 18 months ago, two deed-restricted housing units were owned by people who already owned homes in Blaine County. He said those two Housing Authority clients were allowed to buy affordable-housing units as long as they were in the process of trying to sell their market-rate homes.

“Those two homes have been listed and on the market for more at least one and a half years, but haven’t sold yet,” Patrie said.

He said Housing Authority guideline changes made at a board meeting Wednesday at the Blaine County Annex will prohibit this from occurring in the future.

The board also voted Wednesday to require that Housing Authority applicants are legal residents of the United States, or in the process of applying for legal residency. 

Patrie said the Housing Authority application form has always included this requirement and that to his knowledge no illegal residents have been given Housing Authority housing.

Nick Quaglia, a recent University of California graduate with experience in community outreach, was hired to serve as bilingual community outreach and research specialist. Quaglia will provide translation services, which is required by the federal government, and will develop a plan to reach out to underserved populations in Blaine County, including native Spanish-speakers.

In early March, the Housing Authority will move its offices from Main Street in Hailey to the corner of Second Avenue and River Street in Ketchum.

“The majority of Housing Authority homes are in the north valley, and the majority of applicants work or live in the north valley,” Patrie said. “Hopefully, the new location will also create better visibility to [the Housing Authority],” he said

Tony Evans:

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