Given the extreme shortage of affordable housing in Colorado Springs, the news that the Pikes Peak Real Estate Foundation has launched the area's first Workforce Housing Fund comes at an opportune time.
The fund has already accumulated more than $200,000 and serves as a collaboration among the city, regional foundations and local developers, the foundation said in a release.
Estimates of affordable housing shortfalls vary from 14,000 to 20,000 units in a city where incomes fall below that found statewide.
Census Bureau data from 2019 shows median household income in Colorado Springs at $64,712, compared to statewide, at $72,331.
From the release: "Studies show that by 2050, Colorado Springs is projected to be the state’s most populated city, driving up costs and demand for housing. Rising housing prices mean there are fewer affordable options for our local police, health care workers, teachers, and others to live, threatening the strength of our local economy and the fabric that holds us together as a thriving community."
The city’s affordable and attainable housing plan calls for producing 1,000 new affordable units annually. The foundation housing fund will help support that goal by focusing on development of workforce housing through:
• Coordinating private, public and charitable sector funding.
• Supporting pre-development planning for workforce housing projects.
• Capacity building for local organizations to capture state and federal funds.
The fund has acquired contributions of at least $25,000 each from:
- Pikes Peak Real Estate Foundation
- The City of Colorado Springs
- The Nor'wood Fund at Pikes Peak Community Foundation
- The Moniker Foundation
- The Myron Stratton Home
- The Chapman Trusts
- The RNR Foundation
- The Dakota Foundation
The fund will disburse funds annually to a proposed workforce housing project in the Pikes Peak region. The release didn't identify a target amount the fund hopes to attain each year.
"It is only when the public, private and philanthropic sectors work together that systematic change occurs,” PPREF Executive Director Sam Clark said in the release. “This alliance identifies priorities, visualizes possibilities and earmarks resources, together, in one collective vision. By pooling the team’s expertise, we can address one of our community’s most critical needs - accessible housing.”
The Affordable Housing Collaborative reports:
- An hourly wage of more than $38 is needed to afford a median priced home in Colorado Springs. Nearly 45 percent of the local workforce earns less than $20 an hour.
- In early 2020, one in three El Paso County households were cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.
- Median home prices have risen 76 percent in the last decade, while wages have grown only 12 percent during that same period, meaning homes are becoming increasingly unaffordable.
The city's Community Development Division Manager Steve Posey said in the release the fund "is a great example of an innovative strategy to keep our affordable housing pipeline full and going strong.”
It's worth noting that some affordable housing has recently been sold to developers, who plan to convert them to market-based rentals, as reported by the Indy. Some properties, owned by the nonprofit Ithaka Land, were acquired using money from the city. Ithaka proposes to use proceeds from sales to build a low-income transitional complex southeast of downtown.