Steamboat Springs Politicians, government bureaucrats and authorities often don't want to define a problem because then they would have to come up with a specific solution. A case in point is the so-called "affordable" housing problem in Routt County. In the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about the affordable housing problem but I've never seen or heard how the so-called affordable housing problem is defined.
Let's define it as housing that is relatively expensive compared to the typical income in the area compared to relative housing costs in most other regions in the country. If that is the problem, the solution is to reduce the typical housing price so housing will then become more affordable for more residents.
Housing prices largely respond to typical supply / demand dynamics. If supply is relatively small for the amount of demand, prices are bid up relatively high. If there is an adequate supply for the demand, prices are relatively lower. The first dynamic is the situation in Routt
County. There is a high demand for housing but the supply has been relatively limited, so housing prices are relatively high compared to incomes.
The solution is simple.
Increase the supply of housing relative to the demand for housing and housing prices will eventually become relatively lower and more affordable for more residents.
Our local politicians and housing authorities have offered two "affordable" housing solutions. One is to require developers to offer a percentage of their new housing stock as relatively lower priced "affordable" homes available to a very small handful of "low to moderate" income buyers. The lower home prices are subsidized by relatively higher prices charged to the unsubsidized homebuyers. This subsidized housing "solution" actually increases the housing cost to the vast majority of middle-income homebuyers in the community who do not qualify to buy the deed-restricted, subsidized homes.
The second solution is for the local government to purchase housing stock and rent or sell it to "low to moderate" income residents at below-market prices subsidized by taxpayer money. Another venture which directly costs the vast majority of local taxpayers for the benefit of a very few.
If our local politicians, government bureaucrats and authorities actually want lower cost housing (more affordable) in Routt County as they claim, they will do all in their power do see that as many new homes are built as fast as possible so the supply of homes will meet the demand. This will be a permanent solution to the affordable housing problem that will greatly benefit all residents of the county, not just a few lucky, "low to moderate" income, subsidized home buyers.
Balancing housing supply with demand is not just one possible solution to the so-called affordable housing problem in Routt County, it is the only solution. To facilitate this permanent solution, all "affordable" housing deed restrictions and zoning requirements should be immediately rescinded.
The city should have a housing authority that is only staffed by individuals who work as liaisons between the government authorities who are concerned with health and safety building codes, utility codes etc. that are necessary for any development and the developers to see that the developers break ground and build as many houses as quickly as possible. The faster the next 200-300 homes are built in Routt County, the sooner Routt County housing will become more affordable for all.