By Julia Caulfield
It’s lottery day for the Longwill 16 and Silver Jack housing developments, and Rebekah Hall is buzzing. At the front of the room is a large golden, metal tumbler, like you’d see for Bingo. Beside it on the table are small red balls, each with a number on it. There are 93 households in the lottery – each with between one and three numbers. That means 193 balls, for 24 units available.
The Hall is packed, and beneath the nervous chatter you can hear as each ball is dropped into the tumbler.
Dennis Andrejko sits in the second row of seats. He and his partner, Shawnna Rice, are hoping to get a unit through the lottery so they can move in together. Rice is at work, but Andrejko took the day off so he could be here.
Just after 12 p.m., Town Council member DeLanie Young calls the meeting to order.
“At 12:02 p.m. I am calling to order the special meeting of the Telluride Housing Authority Subcommittee on September 12th, 2019…” says Young.
Council member Young notes that even if a number isn’t one of the first 24 drawn, that doesn’t mean a household is out of the running. Some lottery winners will decide against a unit, or the finances won’t come through. Young says anyone drawn in the top 30 have a good chance to get a unit.
Several more people provide remarks, and the lottery begins. County Commissioner Hilary Cooper reads out the numbers.
The energy is high. Even for those not in the drawing, you have to remind yourself to breathe.
Cheers erupt as the first numbers a drawn. But as the numbers inch closer to 20, 24, 30, the mood begins to drop.
Somewhere around the 50th ball being called, Andrejko decides to leave. Just as he steps outside, his number is called for the first time.
“Okay, cool. I guess I just called in the 55th or something…” says Andrejko.
His number was actually the 57th called.
Andrejko adds “I feel like a lot of people were kind of going for the same units. So, I don’t know, 50th, 55th, somewhere in there, it’s a little disheartening, but that’s how it is, I guess. Literal luck of the draw.”
Andrejko says the lottery doesn’t just indicate a need for more housing in the area. He says there needs more housing to buy, not just rent.
“People don’t want to rent. I mean obviously, the crowd in there and the number of people that signed up, people want to live here and own here, and be in this community and be a part of it, for as long as they can.”
At the end of it all, Andrejko’s feelings are still mixed about the whole thing.
“I looked around the room, seeing people cheering in the first handful of ones called. So I’m happy for those people. I’m jealous a little bit too. I’ll be honest. But I’m glad. It’s new families, it’s people that I know have lived here, that are living here,” He says.
Back in the Hall, numbers are still being drawn. But the crowed has thinned. As the final numbers are called, there are only a dozen or so people in the audience. No one is cheering.
And in what seems like a cruel twist, the final number called…is Andrejko and Rice’s.
The full results of the housing lottery will be available on the San Miguel Regional Housing Authority’s website on Friday. Winners of the lottery can expect to begin signing contracts next week.