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Housing crunch coming



While the local need for affordable multi-family housing grows, the building industry keeps adding more single-family homes.

That's one preliminary finding of the Affordable Housing Needs Assessment, a study funded by the city of Colorado Springs ($69,000) and El Paso County ($18,000).

The study's draft is due to local officials in late June and will provide a blueprint for how government can encourage development of more affordable housing, says Aimee Cox, city community initiatives manager, who's overseeing the endeavor.

"It's not the intent of this group to put another study on the shelf," Cox said at a May 28 meeting on the preliminary results. She said local officials want to know what "incentives and policies" might help spur the creation of more affordable places for low- and middle-income people to live.

The preliminary findings of the study, the first addressing affordable housing here since 1998, show that:

• By 2019, there will be a countywide gap of 19,860 affordable homes, defined by the federal Housing and Urban Development Department as shelter for which residents pay 30 percent or less of their monthly household income. The biggest gap, 13,257 units, will be for moderate-income households with incomes ranging from $46,024 to $67,037.

• There's been a 33 percent increase in single-family homes from 2000 to 2012, or 46,502 homes, bringing the total to 187,817. Multi-unit housing showed a gain of only 5,374 units during that time, to a total of 65,096 units.

• A third of the jobs created from 2000 to 2012 pay less than the $33,261 median of all jobs created, and half fell into low-paying sectors, such as entertainment and food service.

• Hispanic or Latino populations rose by 57.1 percent, compared to a 15.8 percent increase in the white population. "The area is becoming more diverse," said Nick Fedorek with study consultant Mullin & Lonergan. But he adds that because minorities more often rent than buy, "The housing gaps are only going to get worse." The region also saw an influx of "millennials," ages 18 to 33, but less than in some other cities.

• More low- and moderate-income people pay 30-plus percent of income for housing, leaving less for recreation, health care, education and transportation, Cox notes.

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