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SECED Report Indicates Need for New/Affordable Housing in Southeast Colorado

 

Recent Housing Demolition in Lamar

 

The quality of the houses on the sale and rental market for the six counties in southeast Colorado is deteriorating and aging. That’s the general summary of a housing needs assessment conducted from July through October, 2017, by the Community Strategies Institute for SECED, Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development.  The overview was presented by Tom Hart of CSI at the SECED offices on Monday, October 16thand was attended by SECED Executive Director, Stephanie Gonzales, Angie Cue, Community Development Director, Eric Depperschmidt, PEP Executive Director, Craig Loveless, Prowers Medical Center CEO, Sondra Angel, Executive Director of the Lamar Housing Authority, Sheryl Runyon of Runyan Incorporated and local realtor, Sharon Wilson among others.

Condemned Housing Demolition Project

The housing situation meetings have been part of a roundtable discussion initiated by Prowers Economic Prosperity several months ago. The goal is to offer information about the market for renters, buyers, sellers, lenders and developers to determine a course of action to provide a larger housing market for potential employers and business developers in Prowers County.  The report submitted by CSI is categorized by a summary of housing needs and goals for the six county region including demographic trends and forecasts, local economy and employment, housing inventory, housing market conditions, housing gaps and needs. 

A summary of the housing needs shows:

There will be a moderate population increase in the region over the next six years, but the number of housing units has declined; employers cite a lack of decent and available housing units as a barrier to finding and keeping employees; the regional housing stock is aging and the condition of the units is a growing concern with many that are vacant, abandoned or are in disrepair. High priority is given to removing them as well as rehabilitation and preservation of much of the remaining stock.

Prices for rentals are affordable to most households above 30% (AMI), Area Median Income, but some rental prices are equivalent to a monthly mortgage payment; there is a lack of market rate rental stock available and attractive to new residents with incomes above 60% AMI; the sales market suffers from low appraisals and a lack of units with modern amenities and without the need for costly rehabilitation. Prices are too low for production homebuilders to earn a profit, and homebuyers cannot build units that appraise for the cost of development and there has been a reduction in the need for seasonal farm labor as crops are being modified and new farm machinery is replacing human labor.

While the study shows there is a slight reversal of the decline, trends do show population and employment are showing positive growth. However, the basic lack of capital to address the inadequacies in housing and infrastructure is a challenge because investors believe that as the economy now stands, there is too small a return on investment in order to risk capital.

The study outlines four main goals that can be used as a starting point to bring the opportunities into reality:

Provide a full range of decent housing choices in southeast Colorado with special efforts directed at the housing needs of groups which are not easily served by the private market. These include moderate and lower income families of various sizes; promote the preservation of the existing housing stock and older neighborhoods by improving the housing and upgrading neighborhood infrastructure and conditions.

Create innovative partnerships between government and the private sector by creating ordinances, plans and policies that expand housing opportunities and support economic diversity and facilitate and support housing activities carried out by community groups and individuals.

The report cites a number of demographic and economic statistics for all six counties in southeast Colorado. A subsequent article will provide information from the housing study as it applies to Prowers County.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyFeaturedHousingTourismTransportationUtilities

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