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Posted on: November 16, 2018

2018 Housing Needs Assessment and Study Presented to County

The new Housing Needs Assessment was presented to the Board of County Commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 6, 2018, by Economic and Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS) and Sanderson Stewart, a community design group.  The public was invited, and the presentation was well attended. 

The Assessment addressed a specific Focus Area of the Census Tracts west of the Veterans Memorial Tunnels in Idaho Springs to the west boundary of Clear Creek County at the Eisenhower Tunnels.  An annual income of $53,831 was used as the Area Median Income which is a more accurate picture of the current population in the Focus Area.  The scope of the presentation included an employer survey, demographic and economic conditions, the real estate market, an affordability analysis, and a strategic action plan with recommendations. 

Brian Duffany, VP with EPS, reported that over the eight months of research for this report the County has seen signs of housing development.  River Bend Low Income Housing Tax Credit development was awarded funding and will commence construction in 2019.  Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity is actively developing eight homes in Empire and will begin approximately nine homes in Idaho Springs.  Bighorn Crossing is underway and town homes are currently under construction in Georgetown.  The school in Empire is being renovated to provide six rental units in 2019. 

“All of this development has been in the works for some time, and is a sign that a need for housing in the County is finally being met by some progress,” said Sally Rush, County Housing Coordinator.  EPS estimates that an action plan for the county would be to continue to develop an average of 30 rental units over next 10 years and target 10 to 20 affordable and deed restricted sale homes over the next 5 years.

Regarding current inventory and population, EPS said that 65% of the housing in the County was built prior to 1980, and only 85 units have been built since 2010.  The average home price is $286,871.  Second home sales in 2017 have been almost 60% of the total sales.  Rentals average in a range of $966 to $1668 a month.   Approximately 28% of the households are “cost burdened” (spending over 30% of their gross income on housing).  85% of the households are without children and 20% of the population is over 65 years and growing.  Of the 2,300 jobs in the Focus Area, 75% are filled by people commuting into the area including most management and professional levels.  In the total labor force of 1,900, 70% commute out of the County.  It is estimated that 70 to 100 housing units are needed to address these markets, per the study.

“The exercise of researching a specific piece of property was beneficial to examine real life circumstances, conditions, and financial feasibility for development in our County,” Rush added.  Since Clear Creek has a limited amount of flat, open property the research shows that a lack of municipal utilities and improved roads places additional burdens on development costs.  The study also concluded that neither rental nor for-sale development is financially feasible as presented for the site in Dumont due to the need of road improvement and water supply.  This reinforces the idea that infill development and identifying good sites with infrastructure is the priority, and these attributes are most readily available in or adjacent to municipalities.

The recommendations of the Assessment are that a spirit of collaboration of local and state officials, community advocates and businesses is needed to be effective in the approach.  “Recognizing the value of economic diversity and the importance of housing as a strategy of economic strength is just as important as putting affordable housing in areas of favorable conditions for development,” said Rush.

While the report did not highlight any new territory for potential development within the County, it did define reasonable and achievable goals to continue addressing housing as an aspect of overall County health and sustainability.  The County Commissioners will be utilizing this report to incorporate and develop the recommendations into goals and strategies for the County’s future plans.

To request additional information or discuss the report further, please contact Sally Rush, Housing Coordinator, Clear Creek County at 303-679-4218 (Mondays-Wednesdays) or email

The full 2018 Assessment and Feasibility Study can be accessed on the County web site: .  (Housing Authority page)


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