Experts Say Western Slope Facing Housing Crisis

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Saturday, members of the Western Colorado political group, Club 20, held their annual spring meeting. The main topic of discussion -- what some are calling a housing crisis on the Western Slope.

Local officials say with a booming energy industry and tremendous growth on the Western Slope, the high demand for housing is being met by a very low supply. As a result, they say residents are seeing impacts like the price of a house in Rifle going up 26 percent over a six month period, and rising rent rates across the Grand Valley.

Local housing experts say these and other problems are taking their toll on local businesses and workforce. They say businesses are unable to recruit many of the workers they need because there's no place house them and they can't afford to pay their workers enough to buy new houses.

Likewise, they say people who have come to the Western Slope to work in industries like heath care, construction, and retail can't find places to live. The Grand Junction Housing Authority says that is due in part to the fact that no new apartment complexes are being built, and homeowners are choosing to sell their houses rather than rent them out.

They say the rental vacancy rate in Grand Junction is less than one percent, when it should be above five percent. The Housing Authority says that doesn't bode well for working class residents who need affordable housing.

"The Grand Junction Housing Authority currently serves about fifteen-hundred households," said Jody Kole, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Housing Authority. "Unfortunately our waiting list is equally as long, so people are really struggling to find a place to afford throughout the Grand Valley."

The Housing Authority says it's doing its best to help. It says it's working with area businesses on a housing down payment assistance program, and Friday it just broke ground on a new affordable housing complex.

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