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In working toward solutions for workforce housing, density has to be our friend. Not all density is equal, however, and not all building developments have it right.

Building housing at price levels, and capacity, to cover our workforce takes a special kind of planning; planning that requires give and take. Our code allows for planned developments which can be given special allowances.

For example, they might build more dense neighborhoods in exchange for increasing permanently affordable, deed-restricted units. Density done right can be both attractive, more environmentally sound, and remarkably efficient.

Objecting to new ideas, based solely on a rigid definition of density, or strict adherence to the basic land use code, without consideration for the needs of our community is short-sighted. The workforce has many different needs. Some on the lowest tier require public/private partnerships, like our Salida Ridge. Others, like some service workers, hospital staff, teachers, and first responders need housing that might require higher price levels. Affordability is a moving target.

Will every new planned development that aims to build more permanently affordable, deed-restricted units, (sold or rented), be demonized and opposed by those who want nothing to change?

If that’s the case, how will we move forward to help those who are housing insecure in our community? How will we provide services without a workforce? How will we be able to look ourselves in the mirror and say we’ve done our best for the housing insecure?

I’ve heard people say we need to make them, (the developers), build only affordable housing. How exactly do we make them do that? With building costs and other market factors, developers need to include full market-rate properties to offset the cost of providing deed-restricted units. By allowing them more density, developers often agree to increase the number of permanently affordable units, at various price levels.

Change is coming, whether we like it or not. Objecting to good projects, just because they don’t give us everything we think we want, won’t help us move the needle.

Francie Bomer, Salida CO