A survey of more than 250 people involved in the Young Professionals Network and local teachers show 63% do not have affordable housing.
More than two-thirds of people surveyed by Steamboat Springs’ Young Professionals Network say they are concerned they will have to leave the Yampa Valley because they cannot find housing.
Of the more than 250 people ages 20 to 40 surveyed by YPN, about 63% of them said they currently do not have housing that is affordable for them, meaning it costs less than 30% of their total income, though about 54% did identify their housing as stable.
The Young Professionals Network is a community development program led by the Steamboat Springs Chamber, that hopes to power the community’s next generation of leaders. In addition to members of the network, the survey was also sent to teachers who work in the Steamboat Springs School District.
In addition to the survey, respondents were given an opportunity to share comments about their housing situation and their thoughts on the Brown Ranch.
“I’m worried that my landlord can tell us to leave at the end of each lease,” one respondent said.
“I am a current solo homeowner and I am worried I will have to move out of my condo and rent it to live here,” said another. “The cost of living has become too high for my mortgage.”
“I have a six-figure job but still can’t afford much of anything as a currently single person,” said another comment.
“Young adults in this town are desperate for any housing relief,” yet another comment said. “I am sick of paying for second and third homeowner’s mortgages if I am even lucky to find long-term housing. Most young adults I know are on the brink of leaving this town as a result.”
When presented last week, Steamboat Springs City Council President Robin Crossan referred to the comments as “heart-wrenching.”
“How do we get everybody in the public to understand what our young people are going through?” Crossan asked, seeking a way to use local media organizations to share the results of the survey with the community.
Nearly 30% of respondents said they did hope to live at the Brown Ranch and another 40% responded to that question with a maybe. When asked if they would want to purchase a home in Steamboat if there was an affordable option, more than 74% responded ‘yes.’
Nearly 90% of survey takers said they were aware of the Brown Ranch prior to taking the survey and about 71% said they wanted to learn more.
Members of the annexation committee said they wanted to survey more people with these questions, potentially partnering with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center to survey their employees.
While a larger share of the comments in the survey was supportive of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s efforts with the Brown Ranch, that support was not across the board. Of the 104 free response comments received, about a dozen of them expressed skepticism or opposition to the Brown Ranch.
“Close the gate,” one comment opposing Brown Ranch said. “Steamboat is already overcrowded and traffic and parking will be way worse not to mention the grocery store shelves are empty now as it is.”
“Affordable housing is important, but there has to be give and take,” another comment said. “Tone down the scale of the Brown Ranch project, make is simple and cheap to implement.”
“I fear that building this will only create more supply, more demand more influx of residents and the ball continues to keep building and rolling down the road,” said another comment.
Still, there were several comments that indicated the Brown Ranch was giving them hope to stay in Steamboat long-term, to one day own their own home and to find housing that could accommodate a family.
“I am currently living in my office space I rent until I find something else,” one comment reads. “An affordable place on the west side to settle in and start a family would be ideal.”
Council member Joella West said one discouraging part of the survey was that about 10% of survey takers didn’t know anything about what was happening at Brown Ranch.
“I’m at a loss at how to reach those people who say at least that they have no idea what is going on or that they think it is being kept from them,” West said.
Photo caption: A survey of members of the Young Professionals Network and local teachers included more than 100 comments of people sharing their lack of housing and fears it will force them to leave the community. (City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy)