Telluride isn’t immune to Colorado’s high country housing problem. But it’s finding a solution in diversification
TELLURIDE — Lance McDonald walks onto the sprawling new deck overlooking his town.
“Look at this view,” he says, arms wide as he takes in the pink glow bouncing off the snowy peaks in the box canyon. “How nice would this have been when I first got here?”
McDonald moved to Telluride in the late 1980s. He was an intern, working for the town. And for a while he lived in the woods, squatting in a dilapidated cabin on Forest Service land. Today, he directs the town’s affordable housing program that includes the just-opened 18-unit Boarding House, where 46 workers pay as little as $385 a month to live dormitory-style just a short walk from Telluride’s historic downtown and chairlifts.
The Boarding House harkens back to mining-era days in end-of-the-road towns such as Telluride, Aspen and Crested Butte, when newcomers invariably bunked in, well, boarding houses. Like its historical predecessors, the Boarding House offers communal living, with shared bathrooms, television rooms and kitchens in the three-floor building wedged into the side of the steep valley below the ski area.
Telluride built the structure for $8.9 million, using bonding authority approved by voters last year and a $300,000 subsidy from the town’s affordable housing fund. With its rental income, the building is easily meeting its bond payments, McDonald said.
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