Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

A ‘cowboy ski town’ where high earners can’t afford a home faces a housing battle

By 37ci3 Mar4,2024

“In this environment where there’s always going to be a significant amount of demand, we have to deal with it on the supply side, and our supply side doesn’t go from year to year,” said Jason Peasley, director. the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, which will oversee the development.

The project, called Brown Ranch, has been met with opposition from a group of local residents who have raised concerns about its funding, its impact on traffic and local infrastructure, and what it could mean for the character of the community.

During an early-morning city council meeting in October, dozens of residents spoke for and against the project, with supporters pleading for affordable housing and opponents urging the city to scale back the plans or take more time to study its impact. . In the end, a divided city council voted to approve the Brown Ranch plan. But opponents have collected more than 1,000 signatures to put the development on the March 26 ballot, leaving the final decision up to voters.

Jim Engelken, who has lived in Steamboat since 1979 and previously served on the city council, is helping organize the opposition. Engelken said he sees a need for more affordable housing, but would like to see the development scaled back or grow at a slower pace.

“Yes, we need affordable housing, there’s no doubt about it,” Engelken said. “It has to be smaller to begin with, it has to be able to make its own way, its own money.”

He said he’s worried the city won’t have enough funds for planned infrastructure like parks and public transit, and that the projected 6,000 people who will live in the development — most of them — are expected to move there as a result. urban development — will increase traffic congestion and require more water infrastructure.

“It’s too broad, too big, too expensive, too problematic for the existing city,” Engelken said. “We are concerned that this new, large, separate part of our city will not have infrastructure and will create a second-class neighborhood. People living there will be treated like second-class citizens without access to public transport or city parks, and we don’t know how many of them come from outside.”

With a population of about 13,000, Steamboat prides itself on its small-town, Western feel. While housing has always been a struggle for entry-level and hourly workers, Steamboat was considered relatively affordable for middle-income professionals compared to other mountain towns like Vail, Colorado, or Jackson, Wyoming.

“Steamboat has always been known as a cowboy ski town. It’s a true original,” said Steamboat City Manager Gary Suter. “And real estate prices weren’t as crazy as everywhere else. Well, that ended with the pandemic.”

Since 2020, single-family home prices have increased nearly 80% to $1.8 million on average, and all real estate sales, including condos, are up 64% to $1.1 million, according to data compiled by local realtor Jon Wade. For existing homeowners, these increased sales prices have led to higher property taxes, and the average tax assessment has increased by 86%, Wade said.

This makes home ownership largely out of reach for most people making less than $200,000 a year. Even for those who can afford a home, local realtors say, competition for housing is so fierce given the low inventory that those without cash offers often lose out.

“We’re seeing even highly paid professionals in all segments of the market who are giving up their jobs because they spend a little time looking at housing prices and they can’t do it,” said Christy Belton, a realtor. In Steamboat for 20 years, his family has lived in the community for five generations. “People who come here are paying a million dollars for an entry-level house — a completely entry-level, 50-year-old house.”

Steamboat is not alone in its struggles. As demand has increased during the pandemic, so have prices in higher-profile cities like Aspen, Colorado, and Park City, Utah. With even affluent homebuyers priced out of these markets, they began looking for more off-the-beaten-path locations.

Driggs, Idaho, an affordable shelter for workers in the more expensive Jackson Hole, averages house prices Since the start of the pandemic, it has risen nearly 80% to $735,000, according to data from Zillow. Woodstock, New York, saw prices Averaged over $600,000, up 78% on the back of an influx of buyers from New York. In Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a popular resort community in the Great Smoky Mountains but not known as a hot housing market, home prices jumped more than 80% to an average of $480,000.

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By 37ci3

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