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Contact: Nicole Valentine, Director of Communications, Summit County
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution on June 22 proclaiming a workforce housing crisis, stating the housing shortage exacerbated by the pandemic, has reached crisis levels, resulting in individuals leaving the county and a workforce shortage impacting many businesses in the community.
“In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a new business and societal shift brought on from remote working options. We are seeing second homeowners moving to Summit County on a full-time basis, as well as an influx of individuals with the ability to work remotely that have purchased homes and relocated to Summit County, which has exacerbated the housing shortage,” said Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz.
According to the Summit Combined Housing Authority’s 2020 Summit County Housing Needs Update as well as other available information, by the year 2023 Summit County’s housing supply is expected to be 2,000 units short of the housing needed to meet the demands of the local workforce.
The economic and housing impact of the pandemic has fallen most severely on lower income households and people of color, who are already more challenged than the general population to find adequate housing. The federal government recognized the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on housing needs of vulnerable populations, households, and geographic areas and enacted the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” to provide support to state, local, and tribal governments in addressing housing issues.
Summit County will be utilizing nearly $3 million in directly allocated ARP funds from this act to implement solutions to the workforce housing shortage. Through this proclamation and outreach efforts, Summit County is imploring the Governor and state legislature to consider the unique Summit County/Rural Resort Region needs as it develops programs and guidelines that will determine how and where over $500 million in state ARP funds will be distributed to address workforce housing statewide. Combining local government funding, private sector partnerships and state funds, we can make a meaningful impact on the local housing crisis.
“Workforce housing is essential to our local economy and sense of community, for our workers and their families that live in Summit County. The housing shortage is threatening the fundamental fabric of our community. Our local businesses could not survive, much less thrive, without a healthy, sustained working community,” said Commissioner Josh Blanchard.
“Our medical workers, teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, service workers, and other critical members of our workforce currently can’t find housing or afford to live in the same community they serve,” said Commissioner Tamara Pogue. “Mountain and resort communities such as ours face unique challenges to our housing inventory as we face constraints of land shortages, labor shortages, high construction costs, the second homeowner market, and the increasing popularity of short-term rentals in residential units of all types. An increase in the number of affordable workforce housing units in Summit County is essential, not only through building, but through repurposing many of our short term rental units.”
The Board of County Commissioners acknowledges that a solution to the affordable workforce housing shortage will require a multi-pronged approach, including the construction and acquisition of new workforce housing units, the modification of existing regulations, and creation of new incentive programs – all of which will require substantial additional funding from not just local resources but also state and federal sources.
The Board has identified and taken action on several short, medium, and long term solutions to the housing crisis including:
Summit County will be hosting a Countywide Housing Action Initiatives Summit in July to bring stakeholders together to discuss and partner on solutions to the housing crisis.
“We cannot build our way out of this problem,” said Commissioner Tamara Pogue. “We hope this proclamation will alert stakeholders and partners to our predicament and encourage them to come to the table to help us develop solutions.”
For more information, visit Summit County Housing Authority www.summithousing.us, or the Summit County Government Housing Page https://www.summitcountyco.gov/1155/Housing