Why?

There are many reasons we now have an affordable housing crisis:

  • Homes are expensive: In Routt County in 2022, the median priced single-family home sold for $1,160,000.*
  • Workers cannot afford to buy homes: A local household needs to earn $200,000+ annually to afford a median priced single-family home in Routt County.*
  • Wages do not match home prices: Household buying power for a family of four making 100% AMI($102,300/yr) = $398,000. With the median single-family home price equaling $1,160,000, there is an affordability gap of $762,000.*
  • The cost of housing has increased more than the wages.  From 2015-2021, home prices grew at about 9-10% per year, while median income grew at a rate of 2.5%.
  • More households are spending more than 30% of their income on housing.  In 2019, 27% of households earning between $50,000 – $100,000 paid more than 30% on housing compared to 2014 when 15% of households paid more than 30% of their income on housing.
  • Housing supply shifted to vacation rental properties while home prices skyrocketed, and affordable and attainable housing inventory declined in Routt County.

Housing and employment are inseparably linked.

Businesses cannot thrive and grow because there is a staff shortage among teachers, nurses, police and service industry workers due to the lack of affordable housing options.

Results from a 2023 survey conducted by the Young Professionals Network, as part of the Steamboat Springs Chamber, showed that two-thirds of the people surveyed fear housing costs will force them to leave town.

  • More than 60% said they pay more than 30% of their income on housing, which is the federal recommended standard.
  • According to the Colorado Futures Center, 25–45-year-olds are the fastest declining age group in Steamboat Springs.
  • More young people and families are moving because they cannot afford to live here.
  • Our next generation of business and civic leaders cannot promote growth and vitality in the Yampa Valley while they struggle to find affordable and attainable housing.

Community Response

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority (YVHA) has received support from the community to build housing for our local workforce.

  • In 2017, Steamboat Springs voters approved Referendum 5A, a one-mill levy that provides us with a dedicated funding source to spur the development of permanently attainable housing for low-to-moderate income residents. YVHA has a history of leveraging community dollars to create affordable and attainable housing. Since 2016, YVHA has leveraged $4.5 million dollars in community funds to build 285 new homes added to 150 homes held in trust for the community with a total construction value of $103 million.
  • In 2022, Steamboat Springs voters passed the short-term rental tax to help fund affordable housing. $14 million dollars in revenue is expected to be generated annually.
  • In 2023, Steamboat Springs voters passed a ballot that dedicates 75% of the short term rental tax to building the Brown Ranch.https://yvha.org/about/yvha-boundary-map/

Housing Demand Study

In 2022, the YVHA contracted with the company RCLCO to develop a Housing Demand Study to better understand the housing needs of our community.

A confluence of market factors is driving the need for more affordable housing in Steamboat Springs – continued job growth in Routt County, finite planned development, and a growing presence of second home and investors that inflate the for-sale and short-term rental housing market. Together, these forces create a significant housing shortfall for local workers. As a result, the Steamboat Springs workforce is traveling further to find housing options, paying a larger share of their income on housing, or “doubling up” in the limited supply within Steamboat Springs, creating health and safety issues for residents.

The study found that:

  • There is an immediate need for 1,400 units to house local, full- time Steamboat workers, and additional units needed for sustainable future growth.
  • Projections for future demand growth relative to supply growth suggest that there is a total need for 1960 new homes by 2030 (560 additional beyond the existing shortfall) and approximately 2300 homes by 2040 (900 additional).
  • The biggest need for housing falls into two categories: rental housing in the low income category, meaning earning less than 60% of AMI or $58,115 and for sale homes in the 128% to 250% AMI category (apprx. $91,080 (120%) to $189,750 (250%) for individuals.
  • Workforce households have become more and more cost-burdened: an increasing share of households spend more than half their income on rent, or have to seek housing outside of the county.
  • Non-residential uses at Brown Ranch are important to building a walkable and connected community. Aligning community goals with demand will help ensure success of non- residential uses on the site.

Surveys

For the first two weeks of May 2023, the Young Professional Network as part of the Steamboat Springs Chamber conducted a housing survey to its members in partnership with the Brown Ranch Annexation Committee (BRAC). 254 individuals in the network responded to the survey questions and 104 provided additional comments. This survey follows the advice of the Urban Land Institute to pursue outreach to 20-40 year olds.

The key themes gleaned from the survey include the workforce leaving the community because of lack of housing; majority of respondents pay more than 30% of their income on housing; housing is unstable and there is a lack of supply of housing, even for high wage earners. The survey was presented at the BRAC meeting on May 24th.

“The Young Professionals Network was thrilled to work on this survey. We can’t have the next generation of leaders thrive in the Yampa Valley without affordable and attainable housing. This survey provided an opportunity for young professionals to make their voices heard on the current housing situation and what they hope to see in the future,” said Angelica Salinas, Young Professionals Network Board President.

One of the most revealing responses was 67.1% (169 respondents) said they were worried they will have to leave the community. The comments section reinforced the theme of the workforce leaving the community. The qualitative analysis gleaned the following:

  • Teachers can’t find a place to live or a place they can afford. Potential teachers can’t move here and existing teachers can’t stay.
  • 20–40-year-olds desperately need affordable housing.
  • People have and are moving to Craig and commuting to Steamboat.

Some common comments

  • “I have friends who are leaving because they can’t find housing.”
  • “I may have to leave because I can’t find housing.”
  • “We must leave to start a family.”
  • “I am housing secure and fully support workforce housing.”

On affordability, the survey illustrated that 63.4% (161 respondents) pay more than 30% of their income on housing, which is the federal recommended rate. With the high rate of housing costs in Routt County, the comments also showed concerns that the Brown Ranch will not be affordable.

The qualitative analysis showed some themes:

  • “Will the Brown Ranch truly be “affordable” as we have heard of many neighborhoods/developments that are supposed to be but aren’t.”
  • “Worried it won’t be affordable to my/our situation.”
  • “Affordability is crucial to the success of Brown Ranch.

Testimonials

Jake’s Story

“When I purchased my mobile home in 2019, I really thought I was making a great decision, even though I knew there was always a very small chance that the land could be sold from under us. After 2020 and COVID hit, you saw the prices skyrocket for homes in the Yampa Valley and I started to get concerned. Getting that first notification that Whitehaven was up for sale was an absolute gut punch! The people who wanted to purchase the park could have said whatever they wanted, but I ultimately knew if they were able to purchase the park, we would all eventually be kicked out and unable to move our homes anywhere.

Those first two months were so stressful for me, thinking I could very well lose my house. Taking the lead for the homeowners was also stressful, but thanks to the Housing Authority it made everything much easier on me. Knowing that the Housing Authority had already been successful with the Fish Creek mobile home park, it gave me the confidence that we could somehow figure the whole thing out.

Obviously, the private donations were crucial and we couldn’t be more thankful and happy to receive those. I think a key to getting those donations was the help of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, and getting the news out in the Steamboat Today paper. I can’t thank all the people that helped saved our homes enough, it was a true blessing to have the help we did!