Our View: Addressing affordable housing

Conversations about issues needing to be addressed in Steamboat Springs and Routt County often get around to affordable housing.

The lack of it, some say, makes it difficult for employers to hire workers. Others worry that rising housing costs will push more and more people out of Steamboat and into the county, causing sprawl, increasing traffic and creating a situation in which people can't live where they work, or work where they live. Some would argue that it's the single biggest issue facing the region and one that influences and aggravates other important issues.

What: Yampa Valley Housing Authority-sponsored meetings to discuss its affordable housing plan

Where:

Steamboat Springs: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in rooms 113 and 114 of Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Steamboat Springs: 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1255 Lincoln Ave.

North Routt: 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Steamboat Lake State Park Visitors Center, 61105 Routt County Road 128 in Clark

Craig/Moffat County: 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Boys and Girls Club of Craig, 1324 E. U.S. Highway 40 in Craig

But what exactly is the affordable housing issue? Is it a lack of short-term rental properties for seasonal workers, or a lack of long-term rental units for people with permanent jobs? Is it neither, or both of those and a lack of affordable single-family housing?

And who needs the housing but can't afford it? Very low-income people, or just low- or moderate-income people?

If the problem were defined exactly, what and where would the solution be? Subsidized rental units in Steamboat or government-sponsored subdivisions in Hayden and Craig?

And at the core, as always: Who would pay for it all, and how would the money be collected? User fees? Sales taxes? Property taxes?

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority sat out early this month to hear what people in the region thought were the proper answers to questions such as those. The information is being collected to help draft a state-mandated plan to guide the organization's affordable housing programs.

A committee already has held meetings in Oak Creek and Hayden, where turnout was lighter than organizers had hoped.

There are four more opportunities for people to influence the draft plan, however. One meeting is in Steamboat on Thursday morning. A second is in Steamboat on the evening of Jan. 25, followed by evening meetings in Clark on Feb. 1 and Craig on Feb. 8.

We urge everyone with an interest in affordable housing to make time to attend one of these meetings. And we'd argue that most of us have an interest in what the authority ultimately will decide to do, where it will decide to do it and how it will decide to pay for it.

We also urge the housing authority to seek input through such other methods as surveys if the turnout remains light.

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