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Housing’s paradox

Vail Daily Editorial
Vail, Colorado CO

You cannot afford to live here. And yet you do. We all do, having figured out a way.

The middle class in Eagle County has never been more stressed, more squeezed and less able to make it work here. And yet, here they are, somehow making it work.

The affordable housing shortage is as much paradox as budding crisis. No one “normal” can afford to live here. But never have more “normal” people lived here.

We rail about 70 percent of the homes in Vail today belonging to out-of-towners ” the second-home owners. We forget that it pretty much has always been the proportion of second homes to primary residences in Vail.

Nearly half of all homes in Eagle County today are second homes, and forecasts seem to show that ratio easily growing as full-time residents retire, sell and leave the county. With the price surge, competition for housing tips ever more firmly to the very wealthy who live elsewhere. Meantime, the Vail effect is moving west of Dowd Junction. Avon is pricing out 70 percent of its workers. Minturn, long a more-affordable roost for working people, no longer is immune to surging housing prices.

So what to make of statistics and projections on one hand showing a gathering storm to price us out of our own county, and on the other showing the year-round population surging toward double of today in the next couple of decades?

That, too, looks like a paradox. How can this be?

It may be as simple as a remarkable transfer of wealth from one generation to the next, along with America’s amazing economy that manufactures more wealth than homes for sale in Eagle County.

Great, but who rings up the cash registers, operates the ski resorts and handles all the lower paying service jobs and professions like teaching?

This is the strand that will undo the paradox, and bring on collapse if the trends are left to shrugs, endless meetings and studies and the same government decision-making. The free market will settle things, all right, eventually. You just won’t want to be here. Almost no one will.

” D.R.


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