Steamboat Springs City Council reviews affordable housing issue
January 22, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council members agree that access to affordable housing in the city is an issue they should address.
The council on Tuesday evening heard from city Director of Planning and Community Development Tyler Gibbs and Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley, who asked for direction in improving the housing situation.
The council is approaching the end of a 24-month suspension on previous restrictions for new multi-family housing developments and must decide by early August whether to continue the suspension or reinstate it or a similar set of restrictions aimed at increasing access to affordable units.
Peasley presented U.S. Census population data and housing information from the Routt County Assessor's Office to support his claim that supply is down and demand is up in the housing market.
"Across the board, we don't have enough supply," Peasley said. "I believe that a lack of supply is resulting in the housing issues we're seeing today."
Peasley said that rents have gone up about 25 percent during the last two years.
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He asked the council whether it viewed the housing situation as a problem and whether the group was willing to do something about it.
Most council members said they think it was a problem, and one questioned whether the housing situation posed challenges for local employers.
"Recruitment and retention are definitely impacted by the cost of living," said Jane Blackstone, economic development director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.
Blackstone said the Chamber was working on a survey of member businesses that includes asking how housing has affected their ability to secure employees.
Some council members told Gibbs and Peasley that they were interested to see more information from employers and to research the feasibility of improving or implementing public transportation to outlying areas of the county where housing might be more affordable and available.
Council members also asked for more research into what incentives might be desired by developers to bring new housing to the area.
Gibbs said they would use the information provided by the council to further their research into the issue and report back at a future meeting.