That might be your first reaction when you hear the terms “affordable housing” and “attainable housing.”
Yet they are different.
“Affordable housing” describes efforts to make housing available to people whose incomes fall below some fraction of the Average Median Income (AMI). Affordable housing, by this definition, is a real problem, and there are government tools to provide decent housing that does not cost more than 30 percent of gross income (or some similar measure). These governmental tools include low income tax credits, subsidies to cover horizontal development costs, and rent vouchers.
The term “attainable housing” is more broadly inclusive. Attainable housing describes places where home ownership is not attainable for some people with middle class incomes. As southern Colorado has seen over the past few years, gentrification and overheated real estate markets frequently price people with full time, excellent jobs out of the housing. To solve this, units of local government can impose development fees to make housing more attainable for people whose income exceeds AMI. Loan subsidies and other tools play a role as well.
Attainable Housing Needs in the SCEDD Region
In Chaffee County, hot real estate demand pushes prices up and out of reach for many. Similarly, in Custer County, second home development keeps many properties off the local residential market. In addition, the ability to make more money renting to tourists and seasonal residents, than renting to long term residents working in the county, creates attainable housing shortages. On the Eastern Plains, deferred maintenance of owner-occupied and rental units has driven down appraised values, making it difficult for home purchases or new construction to be bankable.
Though the causes are different, the problem is similar—a lack of attainable housing for those who want to live in southern Colorado. To make southern Colorado prosper, housing has to be broadly attainable.
SCEDD has a role in identifying the problem and helping to coordinate strategies to attack this problem. The development of the upcoming Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) will play a role in planning the next five years of effort.
At SCEDD, we see our role as planners and conveners who take a regional approach. Beyond our role of planning and technical assistance, we intend to help non-profit and for-profit developers build capacity to do more.
Please visit High Prairie Homes to learn more.
South-East Plains Workforce Housing Presentation
Southeastern Plains Workforce Housing RFQ
RFQ, Attachment A – Feasibility Study
RFQ, Attachment B – Results
RFQ, Attachment C – Sites and Lots Location
Please keep an eye on this space as we add resources.