Across the nation, housing prices are outpacing both low- and middle-income earners — and El Paso County is no exception.
Until recently, Colorado Springs was more affordable than other Front Range cities, but the city is now experiencing double-digit growth in home prices and rental rates, with no end in sight. The median home price in the city is now $295,000, an increase from $223,000 just four years ago. Rent has increased by 10-12 percent a year — and there’s a shortage of housing units even as more apartment complexes are under construction.
Demand is outpacing supply — and we’re not doing enough to address it.
Official estimates are that we’ll need 26,000 affordable units in 2019, but only 545 are scheduled for construction this year, and only 450 for 2019. The shortage will remain acute, unless something is done. And middle-income residents are also feeling the pinch from rising home costs.
Instead of merely relying on market forces — or leaning on our own judgment to fix the problem — we should consider the best ideas from other cities. We can build smarter, while providing homes at every level.
J. Arthur Jemison and Bart Mitchell are nationally recognized housing experts (see story on page 10). Jemison is the director of housing and economic revitalization for the city of Detroit and Mitchell is CEO of The Community Builders. Both are finding workable solutions in other cities with problems far larger than those in Colorado Springs.
The Community Builders is the country’s largest nonprofit developer of mixed-income housing, with regional hub offices in Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Mitchell leads the company’s development, property management and community life operations with a reach of 10,000 apartments in 15 states. In 1996, he left TCB to serve as chief operating officer of Beacon/Corcoran Jennison Partners, developing HOPE VI communities. He later founded Mitchell Properties LLC, a developer and owner of residential and mixed-use real estate ventures. Mitchell returned to TCB in July 2010 as the company’s chief operating officer.
Jemison joined the city of Detroit in 2014, previously serving as the deputy director of the department of housing and community development in Massachusetts. Before that, he served as special assistant to the deputy mayor for planning and development in Washington, D.C., where he worked on securing the site for the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team, CityCenter DC and the Marriott Marquis.
Both men believe that low-income housing is only part of the solution. They argue cities need housing at every level, from the very high-end, luxury homes to the ultra-affordable, with room for workforce housing in between. More housing equals more opportunity — for everyone.
That’s why the CSBJ is hosting a breakfast featuring the two experts. The event is the culmination of their visit to Colorado Springs, touring multifamily homes, meeting with city officials and learning about the homeless problem and the local housing situation.
We believe the city can work cooperatively with developers to find new ways to address the problem, without harming developers or construction jobs — while also preserving the open space and parks that have earned us the livability rank of No. 2 in the nation.
Join us at the breakfast and leave with ideas for a path to the future that includes housing ideas for every income level.