What about renters in housing discussion?
Tuesday’s article “Is housing really affordable?” follows a trend in this community of ignoring the other side of the “affordable” housing issue, that of affordable rental units. One wonders whether this is due to findings such as the absurd conclusion in the “Housing Demand Analysis 2007” (available on the Summit Housing Authority website) that “rental properties are becoming more affordable to residents.” The study cites 2000 Census data showing that from 1999-2007, average rent increased 10.6 percent, while renter income increased 16.8 percent.
OK, but was rent “affordable” in the first place? Has average rent actually moved into an affordable range, or is it simply less unaffordable?
The study appears also to lack sufficient, if any, input from the sizeable and generally lower-earning non-English speaking renter community, who are among the most at-risk for housing crises. The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute’s recent findings regarding what constitutes a “self-sufficiency” wage in Summit County, compared to local rents and wages for service industry workers, more accurately depicts the affordable rental problems we face. So too does the increased utilization of community services such as food pantries.
When will the issue of “affordability (or should we say “attainability”?)” of rental housing for Summit County residents become a community priority? Does accepting the reality that Summit County is an expensive place to live preclude efforts at problem-solving by local officials regarding such issues? Apparently so.
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