by Carolina King
The Ouray Steering Committee met Thursday, Jan. 10 with members of the Ouray City Council and Ouray Planning Commission to discuss affordable housing as part of a community plan update they have been working on.
Community Development Coordinator Chris Hawkins led the meeting by first giving a presentation on housing, based on recent statistics of housing and income levels in the county as a whole. He then discussed stakeholder interviews in which housing was revealed to be one of the most important issues of concern. Hawkins also reviewed over community housing policies and plan direction of comparable cities and towns.
Hawkins highlighted a statistic that showed Ouray County as having 1,702 households but 2,582 units, which means that almost a third of homes in the county are vacant. Hawkins pointed out that the percentage was the same for the city itself.
Another statistic cited was that the biggest industry of employment in the county is the food service industry, which employs 474. That industry would also be the lowest paying sector, making it difficult for those employed in the biggest industry in the county to afford housing where they work.
Along with going over the community housing policies of Salida, Taos, Pagosa Springs and Nederland and discussing how applicable they could be to Ouray, Hawkins discussed the five-year strategic plan the Ouray County Housing Advisory Committee developed.
He mentioned Telluride as a good example of successful housing policy.
“We don’t want to be Telluride,” Hawkins said, “but Telluride has a great housing program. It’s more of a sticks program versus a carrots program…. Carrots are the incentives and sticks are the requirements.”
The group discussed the wording of “affordable housing” versus “attainable housing.”
Shirley Diaz, member of the Ouray County Housing Advisory Committee and executive director of the San Miguel Regional Housing Authority, said both of those terms mean...