Letter: High housing costs squeeze Grand County
To the Editor:
The secret is out. People are moving to Colorado.
According to the Denver post, Colorado saw a growth rate of 1.59 percent in 2014, twice the national average. That number is expected to increase to 1.7 percent through 2016.
As a resident of Grand County for the past eight years, I have learned to love and appreciate the essence of small town living that we get to enjoy. I have also seen many changes, especially related to housing availability and cost.
Housing is scarce, really scarce and not just for brand new seasonal employees that have just moved to the valley. People who have lived and worked within the community for several years, they too are searching for affordable rentals or homes to purchase.
What keeps a community running, though? The people that live here, work here, volunteer here, and raise their families here. These are the people who give Grand County its wonderful character. What will happen if businesses can no longer find good employees because the ones they had were forced to move because of housing? Will the county then have to turn more and more towards Denver businesses to fill the gaps of local companies?
Where there are problems, there are opportunities, and this is an excellent time for Grand County to take the steps necessary to continue to build a great community and to give residents the chance to live affordably within the community. This is a chance for our community to take necessary steps to prevent a situation like Vail or Breckenridge, where residents cannot afford to live close and are forced to commute long distances to work. To quote a 2014 Denver Post article: “United under the assumption that no town, no matter how scenic, can be a community if everyone who works there lives 45 minutes away, Vail, Frisco, Glenwood Springs and other towns are paying more than lip service to the idea of finding employees a decent home.”
As development continues, it seems fair that government and private business alike can work toward solutions to this increasing problem. For example, in the ’80s Breckenridge required developers of new commercial or residential projects to pay into a low-income housing pool. There are many solutions available if our county government takes the time to recognize and address this problem. As residents, we too need to have our voices and concerns heard.
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On the same day a crucial workforce housing project in Winter Park suffered a setback, four residents requested the town add them to the waitlist for affordable units.