In response to the Editorial published in the Nov. 10 edition of the Mountain Express (”Housing won the election”), it is incumbent upon the Blaine County Housing Authority to respond to some of the issued raised and reiterate the work of BCHA. The Blaine County Housing Authority is a quasi-government organization created by Blaine County Resolution and under the auspices of Idaho Law. We were created as an independent Housing Authority with no federal funding and, as such, are reliant on the funding of the jurisdictions and through the sale of deed covenanted housing.

The mandate given to BCHA upon its creation is to assist the jurisdictions and private developers with planning affordable housing; advise the local governments of any policies and programmatic changes that would encourage development of affordable housing; maintain a database of qualified applicants, qualify purchasers and renters for available community housing; create and update Community Housing Guidelines and deed restrictions, and monitor compliance by developers, buyers and renters; and, collaborate to develop affordable housing within the county (see Blaine County Resolution 2007-33).

Whether the Editorial Board believes this to be “serving two masters” or as keeping “the political heat” from “scorching elected officials” is a matter of opinion and perspective. Our service is to the cause of local and attainable housing for the working full-time people of Ketchum and Blaine County. Most of the housing stock BCHA administers was brought online in the days before inclusionary zoning codes were struck down by the Idaho Courts. Of the jurisdictions that had a required inclusionary zoning law on the books, only Ketchum took the initiative to develop an incentive for developers to either pay an in-lieu fee or include community housing in the development, the result being that most of the new community housing units have been developed in Ketchum since 2010.

BCHA does not make policy—BCHA recommends policy to our elected officials—who are then free to accept or reject that recommendation. BCHA does, in fact, proactively monitor its community housing units and does, in fact, investigate all actionable complaints—and we welcome those with concerns to contact our office with specific allegations. However, we do not act on rumor or speculation. Just as a person in a market rate unit would not appreciate being “investigated” on an unsubstantiated rumor or speculation, we will not subject our community homeowners to unverified speculative witch hunts.

BCHA places qualified applicants into community housing. BCHA maintains a database of more than 250 households (approximately 65% more than in previous years) who need a local housing option to remain a part of the community. We place qualified households into the units under our stewardship. These are not mere data points; these are human beings with families and friends and neighbors. You see them everywhere, and you would miss them if they left. BCHA has been able to retain more than 90% of those community homeowners who sell their houses and enter the market.

We do not have an adequate supply of housing, and the days of punting this housing crisis down the road are over. I applaud those jurisdictions in Blaine County and community activists for their work in updating policy to encourage new development of workforce housing and the preservation of existing affordable housing. This crisis did not arrive overnight, and it will not be solved overnight.

If this community is to survive, we need housing policy that is coordinated and will open the doors to everyone and is based on facts, data, and reason, rather than fear, innuendo, and rumormongering by a few people with a platform to air grievances.

Nathan Harvill is the executive director of the Blaine County Housing Authority.

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