The region got a lot of bad news when the Pikes Peak United Way released its 2013 Quality of Life Indicators report on Oct. 24.
The 144-page document relayed that jobs and incomes had "stagnated," manufacturing jobs had "eroded," and the area's young workforce population is declining. Plus, when the region was hit with the Black Forest Fire in June, it underscored the need for "a thoughtful community discussion about the cost, risks and values of building in the wildland-urban interface."
The local United Way office, with support from other organizations, releases a QLI report every two years. This year's edition, compiled by more than 150 community volunteers of all stripes, also contained warnings about child abuse and neglect, insufficient funding for stormwater control, lack of affordable housing, and sprawl making a far-reaching transit system "virtually unsupportable." Other issues included the failure of most students to meet state education benchmarks, the sexual assault rate here being the highest in the state, and rising obesity and suicide rates.
There were a few glimmers of light, including the fact that arts organizations are growing, more building permits are being issued, volunteerism is holding steady, and people are responding well to disasters. Also, the report noted that a robust 91 percent of local voters participated in the 2012 presidential election, and 32 more neighborhoods organized, bringing the total to 200.
Mayor Steve Bach, who said the biggest challenges are job creation and homelessness, urged community leaders to pick an issue and find a solution to it. You can read the entire report, and find out more about the methodology behind its construction, at ppunitedway.org/ourimpact/qli.