The results of a new Chaffee Housing Authority Survey reveal what was already becoming obvious: in what has become a hot housing market, there are growing concerns over housing affordability for the county’s workforce, and worry over the impacts of short-term rentals.
The survey is the work product of the newly-formed Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA). The CHA is an independent public organization, formed in October 2020 by a joint agreement between Chaffee County, Salida, and Buena Vista. The organization is focused on affordable housing across the county.
Faced with little research in the way of quantifying or qualifying the county’s housing crisis (the last real research was the 2016 housing needs assessment) the CHA has sought community input to help it develop sound housing policy. High on their list of concerns is identifying and developing housing that is affordable for the county’s working families.
The CHA believes its work must be directly informed by those directly affected by the current housing crisis – which is characterized by expensive rents and home prices, and lack of safe, accessible options for individuals and families. The survey will help to inform the organization’s strategic planning process and policy goals, which are being developed this fall.
To ensure those voices were represented, the survey was primarily aimed to gather input from individuals and families facing housing challenges. The survey garnered responses from nearly 300 respondents, most of whom are “housing burdened.” Among the findings:
Household Size and Location:
- 93 percent listed Chaffee County as their primary residence.
- 56 percent of respondents live in Salida, and 30 percent listed Buena Vista as their home.
- 58 percent of respondents were younger than 40, with the input of the 60+ population not well represented in the responses.
- Most respondents were part of smaller households, with 79 percent having household sizes of three people or less.
Annual Household Income and Professions:
- Most respondents fell on the mid-to-lower end of the income scale. For 70 percent of respondents, total household income was less than $61,000 per year.
- A wide variety of professions were represented among respondents, with 35 percent working in health care, 25 percent business owners or professionals, and 15 percent in restaurants or service industry.
Renting vs. Owning In terms of current living situation:
- 54 percent of respondents currently rent
- 25 percent indicating that they own a home.
- 10 percent live in a trailer, car, or tent.
The survey reveals that there is a vast divide between the housing aspirations of the county’s workforce and whether those dreams can be met in Chaffee County. When asked about their aspirations, 72 percent of respondents said they want to buy a home. 160 people (56 percent) also indicated that they do not think that dream is realistic in Chaffee County. Only 18 percent actually see Chaffee as an affordable place to live.
When asked about solutions, an overwhelming percentage — 82 percent — said they believe there needs to be more housing available, with a focus on affordable homes to rent or buy. Some 90 percent of renters said their major challenge is that housing is too expensive.
Meaning it is too expensive given their incomes. The survey elicited 203 write-in comments, including a number of policy suggestions, including a focus on regulating short-term rentals and “progressive, aggressive housing reform that prioritizes the people that work and live here.”
To see the full results, follow this link: https://www.housinghealthchaffee.org/cha