Housing Assessment Information for Southeast Colorado, Part Two

Jennie Rodgers of CSI and Stephanie Gonzales of SECED


This article offers additional information on the quality of the housing market in southeast Colorado, a housing needs assessment report prepared for SECED, Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development by the Communities Strategies Institute.

The assessment pulled data from various sources, ranging from the U.S. Census and economic development organizations, to statistics provided by realtors, lenders, housing authorities and builders. One facet of adequate housing that has been recognized for several years in this region is the chicken and the egg conundrum regarding supply and demand.  Are the houses built before or after we see increased job activity in our area and if we don’t have an adequate availability of decent homes to offer, will we ever see the jobs come this way.

The report showed two areas of concern regarding the status of adequate housing; what is available is old and those homes will be costly to renovate. That is a general assessment of the immediate six county region in southeast Colorado, although for purposes of ease, this article will be concerned mainly with information pertaining to Prowers County.

Age of Housing:

Between 21% and 36% of all housing units in each county were built before 1939 and less that 20% were constructed after 1990 in all but Kiowa County. Many older homes need extensive rehabilitation and are not energy efficient.  In Prowers, the peak building period was achieved before 1939 with 1,513 units built, followed by a downturn in subsequent decades until the county realized a second growth spurt of 1,008 units built between 1970-79.  Another downturn was experienced in following decades which declined to 402 built from 2000 to 2009, 32 from 2010 to 2013 and 7 built after 2014.

Population and Aging:

The U.S. Census Bureau indicated Prowers County has 19% of its population below the state’s poverty level and 14.6% of its families are in that range. Crowley County is listed as having the highest concentration of poverty levels with the general population at 33.4% and families at 23.5%.

The population of Prowers County declined 6% or 713 residents from 2010 to 2017 and no real growth is expected in the near future which is projected to be from 11,814 as of 2017 to 11,723 by the year 2040. Bent and Crowley counties are expected to grow with Bent from 6,003 to 6,507 by 2040 and Crowley from 5,804 to 6,996 for the same time span.

Between 30% and 40% of the population of the six counties is under 30 years old with Prowers County at 40%. Aging baby boomers will see the most increase in numbers between now and 2035 and as the number of seniors increases in years to come, the retiring population will leave critical community jobs such as teachers or public administration jobs to be filed by a younger population.

Ownership, Labor and Economy:

The State Department of Local Affairs estimated there are 18,205 households in the six counties as of 2017 and Prowers County will see growth from 4,822 in 2017 to 5,128 by 2035. As of 2015 home ownership rates for Prowers County is 3,264 owners and 1,592 renters for 67% of ownership of all available housing units.

The majority of home owners in each county have incomes of $60,000 or less with very few having incomes of $125,000 or more. The majority of renters have incomes of $40,000 or less and very few have incomes of $100,000 or more.

The salary range between owners and renters shows 17% of owners are earning up to $20,000 per year and renters is 37%. Homeowners earning between $20-40,000 is 23% and 32% of the population are renters.  Homeowners earning between $40-60,000 is 17% and 14% of the population are renters.

The southeast Colorado labor force has grown 3% between 1970 and 2015. The average annual wage was highest in Crowley County in 2016 at $40,092 and the lowest was in Baca County at $29,276.  Prowers County was listed at $33,072.

Modest employment growth is expected in the region in areas of wind farm production, large construction projects, hemp production, new dairies, expansion of local college programs and health care facilities. More permanent new jobs will pay wages between $11 and $13 per hour.  Information provided by Prowers Economic Prosperity estimates four new employers in Prowers County will create between 60 to 85 jobs in 2017.  New technologies and crop selection is contributing to a downtown in farm labor in southeast Colorado.  Census of Agriculture data shows the number of hired farm hands has declined with a loss of 750 positions since 1997.  Of those, 233 were in Prowers County which had the largest decline of the six counties.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBirthsCity of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyCollegeConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyEmploymentFeaturedHistoryHousingSchoolTourismTransportationUtilitiesYouth


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