Housing Crisis Hits Colorado Ski Town: Even High-Earners Priced Out

An even NBC report puts it that in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, “people with the larger incomes are being pushed out of the market too.

Gary Sujson, the City Manager, said the situation was so bad that candidates for a six-figure job turned it down because they couldn’t afford to secure affordable housing. It is all part of one huge, pulsating, and richly diverse ecosystem. Strung out on a line in northwest Colorado, about three hours from Denver, and one of many ski towns struggling to cope with an explosion in home prices, is Steamboat Springs.

All this has only been exacerbated by the growing trend of remote working and the emergence of the short-term rental market. This makes even handsome salaries helpless in view of unaffordable housing in the area.

This has dealt with a much broader demographic impact than just the city’s employees. Many times, area hospitals are left with the job offer, with doctors wanting to buy million-dollar homes being outbid one after the other. And, ironically, the local ski resort must rent an area hotel for its employees that cannot afford to rent.

Loryn Duke, the communications director of the ski resort, really probably summed up the change in housing dynamics in one short sentence: “Houses used to be for employees, and hotels for guests. Now houses are for guests and hotels are for employee housing.” The crisis of affordability has been steep with the housing in Steamboat Springs. But, across the American West, ski town residents, including Steamboat, have long been experiencing such crises. Pre-existing problems in these most expensive areas, like Vail and Aspen, Colorado, have been further exacerbated by the pandemic and brought forth spiking housing prices. Even previously affordable locales, such as Driggs, Idaho, are grappling with a newfound high-priced market.

Luke Smith, an associate broker for Engel & Völkers Jackson Hole, noted the change as a testament to the change that has overtaken the communities. “I think people have gone from living comfortably to survival mode,” said Cindy Riegel, who chairs the Teton County Board of Commissioners. “We have had quite a few people leave altogether. “The housing crisis has set off a pitched battle in Steamboat Springs over what to do, and dozens of stakeholders are in sharp disagreement over how to fix some of the most pressing issues,” NBC reported.

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