Loomis Reflects, Exiting Mountainlands Housing Trust
Retiring after 20 years as Director of Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, Scott Loomis says he’s proud of their accomplishments in providing affordable housing. But the job has also been extremely challenging.
Loomis told KPCW that, at 72 years of age, he decided it was time to step down. And he is leaving behind a capable staff at Mountainlands, including new Executive Director Pat Matheson and Managing Director Steve Lawrence.
Officially, his retirement occurs on April 30th, which by coincidence is exactly 20 years since he took on the job.
He said that in 2001, there wasn’t much activity in affordable housing.
“There wasn’t too much of it, and there wasn’t too much going on in Mountainlands at that time. Mountainlands had just purchased—was in the process of finishing up the purchase and renovation of Holiday Village Apartments. But there wasn’t very much in the pipeline at that point, so most of what’s been done has been accomplished in the last 20 years, which I’m very proud of.”
Loomis said there were various reasons that more wasn’t done for workforce housing.
“We had the energy and the wherewithal to do a lot more, but for various reasons—land being very expensive and unavailable, not entitled, some resistance we had at the top politically from various governments. We tried a lot. We had a lot of good ideas that kinda went nowhere because we couldn’t get support for them.”
He looked back on some opportunities that were missed or passed over.
“In the early days, even before I started, there were some efforts that were not really well thought out. One good example is Bear Hollow. There was affordable housing but Deed Restrictions were just limited to price, but didn’t require income qualifications or owner-occupancy or any of the things that now the community is aware of.”
Today, he said, the governing Councils in both Summit and Wasatch Counties are supportive of affordable housing. But Loomis said it’s always been challenging.
“Years ago, there was a Utah Housing Coalition conference in Park City. And the keynote speaker’s topic was “Affordable Housing—It’s not Rocket Science. It’s harder.” And I think that the thing that people have to understand is it is extremely challenging to put a project together, to obtain the financing, to see it through. Many of the projects that we’re now seeing, my involvement in those go back to the mijd-2000’s. They’re just now being built. We’ve got a very difficult process. Everything in Park City and Summit County is extremely time-consuming and expensive.”
Scott Loomis, who said he will be involved with Mountainlands through the end of 2022. He said the group is busier than ever—even though their offices have been closed since last March.