Our View: Surrounding towns miss point on housing authority


When chronic wasting disease was discovered in deer on the Motherwell Ranch south of Hayden, no one suggested the disease was Hayden's problem.
Such a notion would be foolish. Chronic wasting disease is a threat to deer and elk, and thus a threat to hunting. That means the discovery of chronic wasting disease is as much a problem in Steamboat Springs, Craig, Rifle, Meeker, Rangely and any other town in the region whose economy depends, at least in part, on hunting.
So far, officials have had no problem getting towns and counties throughout Northwest Colorado to share resources and work together on containing and controlling the disease.
Now contrast the approach on chronic wasting disease to the attitude toward affordable housing.
At a meeting Monday to discuss the creation of a housing authority dedicated to affordable housing in Routt County, representatives from Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa basically said affordable housing is a Steamboat problem.
Why, they asked, should their residents pay taxes to help Steamboat out of a jam?
"A person easily gets into housing for $100,000 to $120,000 (in Hayden) without having a housing authority," Hayden Mayor Chuck Grobe said.
First of all, Grobe's figures are a little dated. Second, his is a short-sighted attitude. Just as chronic wasting disease is a county-wide problem, affordable housing is too.
The reality is what happens in Steamboat Springs affects what happens in the other markets in the county, because Steamboat is the job base in the county.
A significant number of Steamboat workers already commute from Hayden or Oak Creek. And as housing prices continue to rise in Steamboat, housing demand and thus, prices in the surrounding towns will rise.
In the long run, the affordable housing problem will spread like chronic wasting disease to Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa.
As we've said before, a housing authority is the most substantive idea yet to address affordable housing. It is something Steamboat Springs should do, even if surrounding communities want no part of it.
The simple fact is, whether the surrounding towns participate or not, a housing authority will affect them.
That's because it is impractical to design affordable housing solutions that do not involve Hayden, Oak Creek and to a lesser extent, Yampa.
The only question for those towns is whether they will be at the table when the solutions are developed. It's their call.


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