Data shows 47% of Steamboat Springs residents overspend on housing |

Data shows 47% of Steamboat Springs residents overspend on housing

Traffic makes its way through the streets of downtown Steamboat Springs in early May.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Nearly half of the households in Steamboat Springs spend too much of their income on a mortgage or rent payment, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers households that spend more than 30% of income on housing to be cost burdened.

The data was presented to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, May 7, as the council considers setting goals to guide future housing policies.

Though council hasn’t set these goals, three key values have been identified:

  • The ability for those who are employed in Steamboat to also live in Steamboat if they choose to
  • The cost of housing is not such a significant financial burden that it precludes other life essentials
  • The opportunity for families with children to live in Steamboat if they choose to

During the May 7 meeting, City Council discussed possible metrics to measure the success of whatever goals it sets, including workforce efficiency (how many employees in a city also live there), the number of cost-burdened households and the number of households that have a child younger than 18.

According to census data analyzed by council member Scott Ford, of the 9,600 people working full time, year-round in Steamboat, 43% of them — or 4,150 employees — live within city limits. That 43% is Steamboat’s workforce efficiency.

Another 5,461 people, about 57% of the workforce, commute. Those commuters include workers traveling from other areas of Routt County, including neighborhoods just outside of city limits, and those from neighboring counties, including Moffat.

Many of these commuting households can be captured by expanding workforce efficiency to including those living in the Steamboat census county division — an area that roughly resembles the boundary of Steamboat Springs School District. Adding much of North Routt, Tree Haus, Steamboat II, Heritage Park and Silver Spur into the data set increases area workforce efficiency to about 60%, Ford said.

Another 1,851 Steamboat residents work for employers based elsewhere. 

In comparison to other mountain communities, Steamboat has a higher workforce efficiency.

“We’re leading our peers in this. We’re better at this than any of (these) other communities, and this does tie back to an element of community character — that we’re able to house our workforce, and we have been able to do so,” Ford told council members, shortly before contrasting the lower percentage of workers living in other communities, such as Winter Park (2%) and Ketchum, Idaho (6%).

While Steamboat outshines other communities in terms of workforce efficiency, 47% of Steamboat residents spend more than 30% of their income on rent and other housing costs such as utilities, according to the Census’ American Community Survey.

These include homes that are occupied by renters or owners that have a mortgage. Ford said about 11% of owner-occupied homes in Steamboat don’t have a mortgage.

Of the communities analyzed, Telluride had the highest percentage of cost-burdened households at 54%. Following that are Glenwood Springs at 50%, Crested Butte at 49%, and Breckenridge and Vail at 48%. 

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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