There’s a crime wave here in Aspen, and local government is an accomplice. I’m not exaggerating.
It’s rooted in the taxpayer-subsidized housing program. That’s the program where locals with incomes as high as $186,000 get taxpayer-subsidized housing in Aspen for dimes on the dollar if they win a housing lottery (or if they are insiders who bypass the lottery).
Most economists say such schemes make housing less affordable overall, not more. Indeed, four decades of taxpayer-subsidized housing in Aspen has produced the most expensive real estate in the country.
Economists also say these programs harm the intended beneficiaries by enabling employers to keep wages low, and that such schemes are rife with cronyism and inefficiency.
But now, more than 3,000 residents of Aspen receive this housing welfare out of a population of only 6,500. Reform is politically impossible — even as the projects fall into disrepair because the residents don’t maintain them.
All of that is not criminal, standing alone. It’s merely foolish. Aspen residents have the prerogative to get drunk on something-for-nothing economic elixirs, at least until the money runs out.
But here’s what’s criminal. Continue reading