Press Release - Estes Park EDC Releases Report on Workforce Housing Issue

Estes Park EDC Releases Report on Workforce Housing Issue

The Estes Park Economic Development Corporation is releasing a new report entitled “The Economic Benefits of Implementing Workforce Housing in Estes Park.”  The paper summarizes the current estimated need for workforce housing and prior steps taken toward a solution.  It also compares Estes Park’s efforts to other resort and Colorado communities, and will serve as a guideline for the Estes Park EDC Board in evaluating potential workforce housing projects for their ability to both address workforce housing needs and create community-wide benefits.  The Board reviewed and discussed the paper at their last meeting on April 19.  

“Addressing workforce housing is a fundamental building block for the Estes Valley’s long-term economic health and vitality,” said Jon Nicholas, President/CEO of Estes Park EDC.  “We should commend the Town of Estes Park for its leadership in beginning to address the needs of all segments of our community.”

The report notes that Breckenridge experienced a measurable positive impact on its demographics after expanding its workforce housing effort.  From 2000 to 2010, workforce housing accounted for only 18% of residential home construction, yet resulted in 46% of the growth in year-round residents.   Other benefits of year-round workforce housing include reduced commuter miles (which reduces congestion and pollution), reduced employer costs and improved employee recruitment and retention. 

Conversely, a recent study completed by Shift Research Lab noted the high social costs to Colorado’s Front Range of not addressing workforce housing.  A lack of housing threatens the viability of service businesses, and increases the churn of student enrollment in Colorado’s public schools.  Shift Research Lab also noted that “prior research has associated the overcrowding that often occurs in cost-burdened households with greater risk of injury, higher rates of infection, increased incidences of depression, and other childhood development problems, placing additional pressure on health care and social service systems.”  Working families who spend over 30 percent of their household income on housing also spend less money on food, clothing, health care, recreation and other household expenditures, impacting both businesses and local governments that collect sales taxes.

Nicholas concluded that workforce housing is needed to ensure that local residents continue to benefit from both private and government services.  “Growth in second homes or vacation rentals comes naturally to resort communities, but providing workforce housing requires targeted efforts,” said Nicholas. 

The Estes Park EDC Workforce Housing Committee will continue to work with the community to support progress on this important community-wide challenge.  A copy of the workforce housing report is posted at http://www.estesparkedc.com/estes-park-workforce-housing/.

An article on Workforce Housing in Estes Park by Eric Blackhurst

The following is an excerpt from Estes Park Realtor Eric Blackhurst's April 2018 Newsletter: Workforce Housing What does that actually mean? It depends on who you are asking, where are you talking about and what type of workforce is being considered. You can talk about seasonal workers, or permanent employees in the Estes Valley or just the town limits. For this discussion the target is year-round employees working within the Park School District boundaries.

An entry-level police officer for the town of Estes Park earns approximately $56,500. If you use the federal standard for housing affordability of 30 percent of monthly income, that amounts to a little over $1,400 per month for rent and utilities - if there is anything available to rent. Converting that same $1,400 to a purchase scenario, it would support a mortgage of about $282,000 on a purchase price of $338,500 (assuming a 20 percent down payment). There is nothing for the entry level police officer, or lineman or water plant operator, or park maintenance employee to buy in our community.

The Town has difficulty hiring qualified employees because there is no place to rent or buy. This is just one example of the needs of a major employer. This does not even begin to consider the needs of the school district, hospital, National Park, the YMCA, or the general business community. As has been said before, Estes Park is quickly becoming a community that can no longer support itself in terms of providing places to live for all segments of its society. Without the ability to house those who work here there will be a decline in the level of services provided to our visitors, a decline in the school district population, and a decline in the quality of life for permanent residents.

A community problem needs a community solution

Solving the housing shortage will require cooperation and input from all segments of the community - Town and county government, the business community, major employers, permanent residents, employees, retirees and entities concerned with the economic well-being of the community. The solution will require creativity, compromise, land acquisition, private sector incentives, government cooperation, education, use of existing resources, seeking ideas and solutions that have worked elsewhere and long term commitment. This situation did not occur over a short period of time and it will not be solved in a short period of time. This is an ongoing problem that will require a vision for the future by the community and the need to continue to seek solutions for everyone.