Letter: 2A is a justified solution to our housing crisis | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: 2A is a justified solution to our housing crisis

Every week, I teach mental health groups to 70 or more locals. Every week, I see more clients struggling with one of the most basic survival needs: shelter.

On the cusp of winter, I have two clients who currently live in their vehicles. Twenty will lose housing before winter, and over half are spending 50% of their income on housing. Clients are staying in toxic relationships because they can’t afford to leave. Lifelong locals are moving away from support networks because they have nowhere left to live.

Encouraging my clients’ mental health goals in this housing environment makes me feel like Marie Antoinette suggesting eating cake to a starving population. These are not the people that own the town. They are the people that run it — and they are the people being priced out of it.

Often, money derails affordable housing efforts. So let’s talk money.

I bought a townhome in Steamboat four years ago that I rent to four working locals for 30% under market value. It covers all property expenses, and I still have an investment property. My short-term rental neighbors make up most surrounding townhomes, yielding much higher profit margins. 

STRs are a very profitable business. However, they pay only a fourth the tax rate of commercial real estate and hotels. Ballot measure 2A would correct this discrepancy. Housing is not a business; it’s a human need. If you want to treat it like a business — then pay the same taxes every other business pays. If you oppose this tax, then rent your house long term to locals. 

With 2A, tourists would help pay for the housing needed for tourism workers. It’s a poetic and justified solution to a problem that is affecting every local and visitor.

If you are blind to the urgent need for workforce housing, try hiring an employee, browse a Facebook housing group, attend one of my mental health classes. Everywhere, you will see the signs of our community crumbling due to a lack of support for locals. 

2A is about sourcing money from a profitable resource to create workforce housing projects in Steamboat. It’s about maintaining a town people want to live, visit, and invest in, because of the economically diverse community that creates it. This bill prioritizes people over profit because it understands where our real wealth resides. 2A understands that Steamboat needs housing so it can remain our home.

Kalynn Smith

Steamboat Springs

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