Officials in Summit County have been looking into the area’s housing requirements for four years now. As time has passed, locals have dealt with a pandemic, rising prices, and dramatic adjustments in the real estate market. Because of this, Commissioner Tamara Pogue has stated that a fresh study is necessary as the “basis of the county’s housing plan” for the foreseeable future.
“I think since 2019 we’ve seen a number of different trends,” Pogue said. “We’ve seen an increase in unaffordability of the housing market … and more folks moving to Summit County who can work remotely.”
Officials from the county and town governments have joined forces with Root Policy Research to conduct a survey of county residents, employees, and commuters in an effort to gain a more up-to-date picture of the county’s affordable housing challenges and provide ideas for future solutions.
This initiative is being led by the Summit Combined Housing Authority. According to Heidi Aggeler, the managing director of Root Policy, this is the company’s first time collaborating with the county on a housing evaluation, while it has worked with the county before to perform research on childcare needs.
Aggeler said that while Summit County has conducted such studies for years, the influx of grant money from House Bill 1271, which created three statewide housing-focused initiatives authorized by legislators in 2021, has encouraged similar needs assessments from rural municipalities across the state.
“The state has played a very significant rule in communities’ ability to do these studies,” Aggeler said. “Investments haven’t been made in housing assessments, historically. And so having current data is really important to having informed policy that’s going to be effective. Otherwise you’re guessing a little bit.”
The study’s community survey formally began on February 27 at a panel that convened county and state leaders to examine the workforce and “missing middle” housing crisis in the county and the state of Colorado. According to Pogue, the study will detail the housing shortage in the county, as well as the income distribution and percentage of homeowners and renters (as well as the availability of housing for each) in the area.
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Local developments, such as the implementation of short-term rental rules in cities and the unincorporated parts of the county, may also contribute to a housing market that looks very different from what it did in 2019, along with the tectonic societal shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2019 study’s findings informed some of the county’s most recent housing policies, including a ban on issuing new licenses for short-term rentals and subsequent limitations on the number of available units in the county. According to the research, short-term rentals accounted for nearly a third of the country’s total housing stock.
The survey found that while 30% of the properties in the county were occupied all year, 70% were vacant. Much influence over the implementation of major housing initiatives, such as a proposal to develop hundreds of housing units on a tract of land outside of Frisco known as Lake Hill, may rest with new research that has been commissioned by county officials.
According to Pogue, it may be used to decide things like income restrictions and the types of apartments that are available. Since the latest study’s findings were finalized in March 2020, more than 500 additional housing units have been created or are nearing completion, according to Jason Dietz, the county’s housing manager.
“Around two weeks following the release of the previous study, the world shifted substantially,”“It’s an important tool for helping the community and government understand the housing needs and gaps and how to address that,” Dietz said.
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