‘Difficult times’ ahead due to housing | VailDaily.com

‘Difficult times’ ahead due to housing

Dominique Taylor/Daily file photoThousands of additional affordable homes,will be needed over the next two decades, a study says. Miller Ranch in Edwards is a recently built affordable-housing complex.

VAIL ” Eagle County is headed for “difficult times” because of the lack of housing for workers, a new study says.

The report was produced by the Urban Land Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit that came here for a week in December to study housing issues.

The county needs 11,500 new homes in the next two decades to house local workers, and more than three-quarters of those homes must be “affordable,” the report says.

And that doesn’t factor in the 3,500 affordable homes that are needed now.

Local developer Harry Frampton, who helped fund the study through his company East West Partners, said its findings were “dead on.” Frampton is a former chairman of the Urban Land Institute.

“I think it is a call to action,” he said. “Whether we have the political will and leadership to do what it said, I’m not very optimistic about that.”

Regional, cooperative efforts of governments and private companies will be needed to build the housing, the study says.

Eagle County’s economy will suffer if affordable housing is not built, the report says. The lack of affordable housing in Eagle County creates lengthy commutes that threaten Eagle County’s economy, according to the report.

“The constraints on the availability of land have limited the ability of the starting-out middle class to continue to travel farther ‘downvalley,'” the report says.

And market forces will not correct the problem, according to the institute. Higher wages would lead to higher prices at restaurants and hotels, which would lead to fewer visitors and “a general contraction of the economy.”

Eagle County’s economy will suffer without a middle class, the report says.

“Without the youth, talents, education and energy of a vital middle class, further economic development in Eagle County will be limited,” the report says. “Existing employers will be unable to recruit and retain critical skilled staff needed for operation of their businesses.”

The report calls for the creation of a regional “housing coalition.” A countywide panel moved to create such a group earlier this month.

“For too long, the communities in Eagle Valley have stood apart from each other and neglected to communicate or cooperate,” the study says.

The county’s population is expected to grow from 49,300 to 65,000 by 2015. That number is projected to reach 80,700 by 2025.

Studies say 18,265 jobs will be added by 2015, with another 18,283 jobs added by 2025.

The study suggests methods such as bonds, “linkage” tools and low-income housing credits to create housing for workers.

The report ultimately urges action to address the housing issue.

“Eagle County is headed for difficult times, but is has not yet reached the tipping point,” the report says. “The county still has time to take action, but failure to act could threaten the social and economic viability of he county. … Now is the time to start.”

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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