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/.