Summit County embarks on new housing study set to be the ‘foundation’ for future projects and policy

Officials aim to understand housing inventory, income levels among other data points

The Village at Wintergreen, pictured in July 2022, was a county-supported housing development that brought nearly 200 income-based apartments to Keystone when it first opened in 2019. County officials, in partnership with town governments and the Summit Combined Housing Authority, are currently completing a new housing study to inform future projects and policy.
Jason Connolly/Summit Daily News archive

It’s been four years since Summit County officials embarked on a study to understand the area’s housing needs. Since then, residents have weathered a pandemic, inflation and major shifts in the housing market. 

It’s why county officials believe it’s time for a new report, which, according to Commissioner Tamara Pogue, will form the “foundation of the county’s housing plan” for years to come.

“I think since 2019 we’ve seen a number of different trends,” Pogue said. “We’ve seen an increase in unaffordability of the housing market … and more folks moving to Summit County who can work remotely.”

In collaboration with the Summit Combined Housing Authority, which is spearheading the project, officials from both county and town governments have partnered with Root Policy Research to begin the process of surveying county residents, employees and commuters late last month in an effort to see an updated picture of the county’s affordable housing challenges — and provide ideas for future solutions. 

Root Policy has previously worked with the county to conduct research on child care needs, but this marks the first time it has partnered on a housing assessment, according to Root Policy Managing Director Heidi Aggeler.

An infusion of grant money from House Bill 1271, which created three statewide housing-focused programs passed by legislators in 2021, has helped spur similar needs assessments from rural communities across the state, though Summit County has historically done these studies for years, Aggeler added.

“The state has played a very significant rule in communities’ ability to do these studies,” Aggeler said. “Investments haven’t been made in housing assessments, historically. And so having current data is really important to having informed policy that’s going to be effective. Otherwise you’re guessing a little bit.”

As part of the study, a community survey officially launched during the county’s Feb. 27 panel which brought together local and state leaders to discuss the county — and Colorado’s — workforce and “missing middle” housing crisis.

Pogue said the study will show the county’s housing deficit, its income spectrum, the breakdown of homeowners and renters (and what housing inventory exists for both), among other data points. 

Along with the seismic socioeconomic changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, more local developments, such as the roll out of short-term rental regulations in towns and the county’s unincorporated areas, could also make for a different housing reality than what it was in 2019. 

In some ways, the findings of the 2019 study helped form the more recent housing-focused policies from county lawmakers, such as short-term rental license moratorium and subsequent caps from the county. The study found that about one-third of the county’s overall housing inventory was listed as a short-term rental. About 70% of the county’s housing supply was vacant homes and 30% was year-round occupied housing, according to the study. 

A new analysis could have significant sway over how county officials implement major housing initiatives, such as a proposal to build hundreds of housing units on a parcel of land outside of the town of Frisco known as Lake Hill. It could determine, for example, the income caps for those units and the mix of apartment types, Pogue said. 

According to county Housing Manager Jason Dietz, more than 500 new housing units have either been built or are nearing completion since the results of the last study were finalized in March 2020. 

“About two weeks after that last study was released, the world changed dramatically,” Dietz said. 

The updated study, Dietz added, will “go a long way to informing policy,” with officials aiming to have it completed by July, he said. 

“It’s an important tool for helping the community and government understand the housing needs and gaps and how to address that,” Dietz said.

Take the community survey

The Summit Combined Housing Authority and Root Policy’s new housing survey is available for county residents, workers and commuters to take online in both English and Spanish.

The survey takes about 12 minutes and responses are confidential. Respondents who complete the survey before March 31 will have a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.

Go to to take the survey in either English or Spanish.

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