People across the metro area are struggling to afford a place to live. Minimum wage earners might spend upwards of 60% of their paychecks on rent. Many Millennials, now entering their 40s, have accumulated less wealth than prior generations and are struggling to find a first home they can afford. At the same time, those who might sell, Baby Boomers, are prone to hold onto their homes, unable to downsize in the supercharged market.
These and other factors, including homelessness, a history of racial disparities where 71% of white Coloradans own homes but only 42% of Black Coloradans do, and a slow down in building that began more than a decade ago during the Great Recession, add up to constitute what some experts call a crisis in housing affordability and availability.
Over the last six months, two dozen journalists, editors and staff at Colorado Community Media worked to answer questions on why this is happening, how we got here and what the solutions are.
The work to find the answers carried our journalists along the Front Range, to talk to mayors, housing authorities, experts and, most importantly, lower- and middle-class families experiencing the crisis first hand.
Our reporters and editors also held focus groups, talking directly to prospective homebuyers, like the single mom worried that another rent increase could land her in her car and the real estate agent who understood the problems but worried about a lack of solutions.
Over the next four weeks, Colorado Community Media provides an in-depth look at how the current crisis impacts our communities. In Week 1, The Long Way Home breaks down how we got here. On Week 4, we look at how local, state and federal governments are investing millions of dollars into a range of possible solutions – from helping the homeless to affordable housing programs.
Contributors to the project include:
Michael de Yoanna
Deborah Grigsby Smith
Deb Hurley Brobst