Young Professionals survey shows 67% worry housing costs will force them to leave
Survey results released this week by the Young Professionals Network — a part of the Steamboat Springs Chamber — showed that 67% of survey participants worry that high housing costs will force them to leave Steamboat Springs.
During the first two weeks of May, the Young Professionals Network conducted a housing survey for its members in partnership with the Brown Ranch Annexation Committee, with 254 individuals responding to the questions.
Angelica Salinas, board president of the Young Professionals Network, said key themes from the survey include that sectors of the workforce are leaving the community because of the lack of housing. The survey showed that a majority of respondents pay more than 30% of their income for housing. They say housing is unstable, and the supply of housing is lacking, even for high-wage earners.
“We can’t have the next generation of leaders thrive in the Yampa Valley without affordable and attainable housing,” Salinas said. “This survey provided an opportunity for young professionals to make their voices heard on the current housing situation and what they hope to see in the future.”
Organizers say one of the most revealing responses was that 67%, or 169 respondents, said they are worried they will have to leave the community.
The comments section showed, for example, that teachers cannot find a place to live or a place they can afford, potential teachers cannot move here and existing teachers cannot stay. Respondents said 20- to 40-year-old residents “desperately” need affordable housing. People have moved, and are moving, to Craig and commuting approximately 42 miles one way to work in Steamboat.
Some of the 104 comments from respondents include, “If I were to start a family, I don’t know how I could afford to stay;” “I am leaving in the fall because of the lack of availability and affordability;” and “I am worried that my landlord can tell us to leave at the end of each lease.”
Another respondent noted, “I am worried I will have to move out of my condo and rent it to live here. The cost of living has become too high to afford my mortgage.”
Regarding housing affordability, the survey illustrated that 63.4%, or 161 respondents, put more than 30% of their income toward housing, which is the federally recommended percentage. Considering the high rate of housing costs in Routt County, the comments also showed concerns that the Brown Ranch housing development will not be affordable, Salinas noted.
“I am in a senior management position at a local nonprofit organization and am still spending nearly 50% of my income on rent each month,” one respondent noted.
“My landlord has just informed me she will be raising rent by $1K,” another respondent noted. “At that price point, I’d rather invest in buying, but mortgage rates are crazy and prices in town have not gone down.”
In a survey question asking “Do you currently have stable housing?” 20% of respondents answered “maybe” and 25.6% said “no.”
Respondents wrote about unstable housing concerns such as leases not being renewed due to the sale of the home or the owner moving back. Some noted rent increasing dramatically at lease renewals that the tenants can no longer afford. Others said some residents stay in stressful living situations because they can find no other options.
In the survey, 74.3% of respondents said they were interested in buying affordable housing, 29.6% said they hope to live at Brown Ranch, and 40.7% said “maybe” they would live at Brown Ranch.
Information about the Young Professionals Network is found at SteamboatYPN.com.
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