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.