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A housing survey created by the Chaffee County Housing Policy Advisory Committee is yielding important information about residents’ opinions and housing needs, but HPAC members say they need more community input.

“We’re going to close the survey at the end of March, so there is still time for residents to weigh in,” said Paige Judd, an HPAC member who led development of the survey. “We want as broad a response from the county as possible. We have heard from people up in Buena Vista, that they think the community would have liked to see a candidate debate on housing similar to the one we held in Salida. We just don’t have enough time to pull it together.”

Launched last month, the county-wide survey is a tool to gain input from residents on housing needs and priorities. The survey includes questions that rank segments of the population for priority for deed-restricted housing.

Among the choices: whether a family with long-time workers in the county, families with children, retirees who worked in the county, or people who work in essential jobs like public safety or education, should get priority for housing built under a restriction that it go to a designated priority group.

Thesurvey asks, if priority is given to workers, how long would a person need to work in the county to be eligible, or if just living for a minimum number of years in the county would count.

Early survey results have shown that people require more education about what deed restrictions are. “We want people to know that deed restricted housing doesn’t mean it’s only for people who make very little money,” said Judd. “I want to clarify that these homes will probably be for people in the 60-percent to 100-percent AMI (average median income) range.”

County residents can take the survey by going to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SYM5YCW .

The advisory committee was formed following the 2016 housing assessment that documented a severe shortage of housing due to factors that include county population growth and more second home sales, which reducehousing availability for local workers.

The county’s housing needs are especially critical for what some call “affordable housing,” meaning housing that costs no more than 30 percent of a person’s take-home pay. In the case of people working at, or just above, the minimum wage, that means that housing they can afford in Chaffee County is for all intents and purposes out-of-reach. One-bedroom apartments in Salida currently rent for as much as $1,400 per month.

The survey is the latest HPAC effort to obtain county housing input. The advisory committee has created a Facebook page to share relevant information about housing issues, and it has also built a website, hpacchaffeecounty.com, as a repository for resources and upcoming events.

Editor’s note: Ark Valley Voice welcomes guest opinions about housing needs and solutions to the county’s housing shortage. Send guest opinions to Jan@arkvalleyvoice.com.