Alex Schoder: High-income needs
July 29, 2006
With real estate prices steadily rising, Steamboat is turning into a dichotomized community of socio-economic strata: the wealthy and the lower-income.
For those in the latter, some in our City Council have engaged in a campaign of building low-income affordable housing. But what of the high-income households? They form the backbone of future economic growth in Steamboat, and Steamboat’s housing market is simply becoming too expensive to attract and retain these skilled workers. What Steamboat Springs needs is clear: High-income affordable housing.
The high-income earner in this city finds it challenging to buy a home and settle down in our community. They cannot afford the high real estate prices and are not given the same breaks as lower-income earners who have access to affordable housing. This leaves the few high-income earners who do chose to make our city their home no choice but to assume a mortgage that can easily total 50 percent or more of their disposable income. As a consequence, Steamboat becomes less appealing to this group, and those who do choose to assume the hefty expense find themselves with no alternative but to cap spending on local goods and services that would otherwise be available to stimulate our economy.
High-income affordable housing is the solution that will bring the greatest benefits possible to our community. By providing this opportunity, Steamboat stands to gain tremendously –ar more so than with lower-income affordable housing.
It will attract skilled labor and management talent in new industries to our city, thereby diversifying our economic base and mitigating the impact of slow tourism years. It will attract a class of entrepreneurs with the skills, talent and willingness to invest in new local businesses that create jobs.
An increase in consumer spending by this group, which will be far greater than the average lower-income earner’s spending, will trigger a growth in demand, improving wages for lower-income earners. It will enable high-income earners to pump far more money into our local economy in the form of consumer spending, generating a bigger tax base for future, carefully planned, growth and investment. It will enable the building of higher-end homes that in turn will generate greater revenues and profits for our local housing industry.
These are but a few of the benefits that high-income affordable housing could bring.
In conclusion, if we are going to interfere with the tried and tested free-market system, we must reassess who should get access to affordable housing.
If the aim of affordable housing is to achieve the greatest economic benefit possible for Steamboat, then high-income affordable housing is arguably preferable over lower-income affordable housing. And if we decide, as a community, that the high-income affordable housing argument is absurd or unfair, or that this group could commute to our city (just as lower-income individuals could), does it not stand to reason that we should abandon the concept of affordable housing altogether and let the free market sort itself out?