The affordable housing shortage nationally and in Colorado received much attention at the end of April.
A panel sponsored by the El Pomar Foundation’s Forum for Civic Advancement was held, entitled “A Changing City.” It devoted much time to affordable housing, as did a report submitted to the City Council by the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs, real-estate agents and allied housing-oriented interest groups.
“Build more housing in Colorado,” was the battle cry at both events, but there were few major suggestions on exactly how that goal could be achieved.
State demographer Elizabeth Garner told the El Pomar panel that population continues to grow in Colorado, but the housing industry has not been able to keep up.
“The United States population grew by 7% from 2010 to 2020,” she said, “but the number of Coloradans went up by 14%. The state simply failed to keep up with its housing needs during a period of rapid growth.”
Garner further noted that 126,000 fewer housing units were built in Colorado from 2010 to 2020 than had been built in the previous 10 years. At the same time there were fewer housing units being built, she said, Colorado achieved the nation’s fourth-highest median housing price. Short supply caused rising prices.
Tatiana Bailey, an economics and business professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, said the chief cause of the current housing shortage is the Great Recession of 2008. One effect of the recession, she explained, was to make mortgages harder to negotiate and acquire. Homebuilders responded by planning and building fewer houses.
How bad is the current housing shortage? Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac estimated the national shortage in 2020 was 3.8 million housing units. The 2020 Census set the Colorado shortage at 225,000 units.
Tatiana Bailey estimates the shortage in Colorado Springs at 12,135 units.
The homebuilders-real-estate study was titled “Housing for All: Missing Middle Report.” It lamented that middle-income wage earners are being forced out of the housing market by lack of houses and resulting high prices. Polling revealed that 71% of workers with incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 said that housing costs were a major challenge.
The hardest-hit age group, not surprisingly, was workers 26 to 41. More than 85% said housing prices were making buying a home difficult. As a result, this age group is doing more renting than buying, even though rents are rising along with house prices.
A variety of additional causes were cited for the current housing shortage in Colorado.Garner noted that an “age-in-place” phenomenon is encouraging older Coloradans, mainly widows and widowers, to continue to occupy family houses built for five people rather than one. We see this in our own neighborhoods.
There also were complaints about investors who convert …….