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What I Don’t Get About Affordable Housing

I was reading Bubba Brown’s article in today’s Park Record about Economic Growth in Summit County. It brought up the need for affordable housing for local workers. Yet this article seemed different because it is in the context of Summit County and not Park City.

For so long I have heard people lament that their children can’t afford to live in Park City. That people working at a local grocery store can’t afford to live in Park City. That ski workers can’t afford to live in Park City. That is all probably true.

Yet what about Summit County as a place for affordable housing — and I’m not talking Old Ranch Road? Kamas is 22 minutes away from Park City. Oakley is 25 minutes away from Park City. Check out what you can get in Kamas for under $250,00. That still may not be cheap enough, but it is at least half (probably 1/3) of what it costs to buy a house here in the Basin.

So what I don’t understand is why talk of affordable housing has to be so uber-local. My first, second, and third jobs out of college were at least 25 minutes from my home. I was willing to drive. Would I have loved to live downtown in the city where the action was? Sure, but I was making $34,000 a year and condos cost $400,000. That’s life.

If you look far enough into the future, and if you believe growth is really coming, then you’d be a fool not to buy in Kamas. If Park City will be what they project, why wouldn’t you want your kid to buy in Kamas at $220,000. That would be the definition of investment.

Folks in Kamas or Oakley, of course, may say that they don’t want these type of residents. That’s a larger issue though. That said, it seems like it makes a lot of sense for us to think outside of Park City and the Basin for affordable housing. It’s just a more straightforward path. These properties are already somewhat affordable.

We don’t have to figure out ways to fit the square peg in the round hole.



1 Comment


Your comment has merit, but the biggest complaint of locals recently is traffic. With both visitors and people commuting in to work, outsourcing our affordable housing on exacerbates the problem. Couple that with the fact that the starting price of a house today in the Park City or the basin is around 500K (if you are very lucky to find one for the one or two days it is on the market) and averaging much higher. When we talk about “affordable” housing, we are also talking about people who make 100+K per year. These are teachers, police, government workers, and even business owners.
SO many of my neighbors in Prospector tell me that they couldn’t afford their own homes if they were to buy now. HALF of the homes sold in Park Meadows last year sold to 2nd home owners.
People always talk about us not becoming like Aspen, but Aspen has over 50% of its population living and working in town. We aren’t even close to that.
To me, when we talk about affordable housing it isn’t a fair or unfair issue (not fair that I can’t afford town) but more of a quality of life issue for us all. Economically diverse towns are great towns. I don’t want to live in a town that people have to make MORE than 150K to be able to even start looking for a place they can afford. I like having ski bums around, and housekeepers, restaurant workers and teachers.
Teri Orr recently penned a column addressing this issue that had many shares on facebook. Eloquent as always, I think it is worth a read.

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