More Spanish-speaking residents face eviction, live in overcrowded housing compared to English-speaking peers, according to initial results of Summit County study |

More Spanish-speaking residents face eviction, live in overcrowded housing compared to English-speaking peers, according to initial results of Summit County study

A preliminary survey of nearly 2,000 shows disparities in housing realities for English- and Spanish-speaking residents, with more results to come

The Village at Wintergreen, one of Summit County's most recently developed affordable housing projects, pictured in July, 2022. County officials are currently pursuing an updated housing study that will dictate future policy.
Jason Connolly/Summit Daily News archive

Spanish-speaking residents face stark differences from their English-speaking peers when it comes to housing in Summit County. A majority of Spanish-speaking residents said they were renters rather than homeowners. More of them were evicted in the last five years. Many said they live in overcrowded housing. 

That’s all according to the preliminary results of a recently-launched housing study that aims to understand the county’s housing needs and how county officials can plan for the future. 

Heidi Aggeler, a managing director for Root Policy Research, which is conducting the study, presented the initial findings during a March 21 Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting. The results were based on nearly 2,000 responses to an online survey available in English and Spanish that is set to run until March 31.

“At the end of the day, what should you expect to see out of this study?” Aggeler said.

The answer, Aggeler said, includes exploring demographic differences of residents and those commuting to, but not living in, the county; creating a picture of residents and workers who are housing insecure and understanding who is living in “substandard conditions,” such as overcrowded housing. 

The latter issues were the focus of the initial results presented to commissioners, which showed a disparity in the housing situations of English- and Spanish-speaking respondents. As of March 20, the survey received over 1,700 responses in English and over 220 in Spanish. 

Of the English-speaking respondents, 54% reported owning their home, 30% rented with a lease agreement, 6.5% rented without a lease agreement and less than 1% were living in a motel or hotel. In comparison, 6% of Spanish-speaking respondents said they owned their home, 58% rented with a lease agreement, 19% rented without a lease agreement and 3% were living in a motel or hotel. 

When asked if they were forced to move in the past five years, 20% of English-speaking respondents said yes while 47% of Spanish-speaking respondents said yes. More Spanish surveys reported moving due to an eviction, 26%, compared to a smaller minority of English responses, 5%. 

Finally, when asked if respondents live with anyone who regularly sleeps on a couch, sofa bed or on the floor “because there is no room in a bedroom,” 9% of English-speaking respondents said yes while 44% of Spanish-speaking respondents said yes. 

While it is considered a core data source, the survey is only one of several strategies Root Policy is using to understand community needs. The study is also expected to include focus groups and interviews with employers. 

The survey aims to understand the housing realities among different demographics such as race, income and employment and estimate the deficit of housing units in the county. It will also seek to provide a roadmap for the next two, five and 10 years for how the county can shore up its affordable and long-term housing supply. 

“I think it’s really important, particularly in Colorado, to look at longterm population trends,” Aggeler said.

“Our big bump in population in the state of Colorado was in the ’90s,” Aggeler continued, adding the state overall has seen “a leveling off or a slight decline in your younger workforce — and certainly your youth.”

As the study continues, Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she would would like to see focus on property owners to further understand the impacts of short-term rentals on the housing market. Preliminary survey results show that about a third of all respondents, both English- and Spanish-speaking, lost housing at one point because it was converted to a short-term rental.

“I think the elephant in the room, somewhat, is we don’t really have a good handle on how many units we lost that converted into (short-term rentals) during the pandemic,” Lawrence said.

Another key demographic to look at is “out commuters,” people who live in the county but work outside it, such as remotely, said Commissioner Josh Blanchard.

“How do we maintain the units that we have — hold onto what we have?” Blanchard said. “(Out commuters) they’re still a part of the community, but they’re working outside of the community. I think that’s a layer that we’ve been trying to wrap our head around and better understand.”

County officials have said they expect the study to be finalized in the coming months, with a draft of its findings available in early summer.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.