PI Editorial: Could 2023 be the year we break through on housing needs?

PI Editorial Board

As much as we like to think of the New Year as a time of reset and recommitment, it doesn’t mean existing challenges disappear.

And as we look ahead to the year to come, housing continues to be on our minds. Yet as the root challenges from years past are coming with us into 2023, we’re cautiously optimistic the Roaring Fork Valley could be poised to make considerable progress on our community housing needs.

There are three reasons in particular we’re hopeful about the possibility of making real progress on our housing crisis this year. One is that free market development, while certainly different than affordable housing, will see numerous units come available this year. In fact, it’s already started: Carbondale issued 98 certificates of occupancy in 2022, and will certainly issue more this year. Glenwood Springs should also see some new units come online soon. While a majority of these housing units are not deed restricted, meaning they can be rented for however much the property owner deems, they could still help alleviate some of the intense demand that’s risen in the pandemic years. 

For Glenwood Springs, we’re hopeful that new hotel conversion ordinances and the voter-passed accommodations tax will further efforts to bring more workforce housing to the area.

These efforts could also be further bolstered if Glenwood Springs City Council takes up Planning and Zoning’s recommendation of a 20% inclusionary housing requirement on rental developments. Carbondale has a similar ordinance in place already, and ensuring all future development sets aside units for our workforce housing could help level the playing field for those who help drive our tourism economy.

Still, even with all the potential for progress we see there is still a long ways to go for us to meet our community housing needs. Even before the pandemic threw gasoline on our housing crisis, the Greater Roaring Fork Regional Housing study estimated we had over a 2,100 unit shortfall for households at 60% of area median income. In other words, progress doesn’t mean “mission accomplished.”

But, if we can build on the progress made in 2022 through the coming year, it could slowly but surely become easier to both work and live in our communities.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud and community representatives Mark Fishbein and Danielle Becker.

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