Editorial: Housing help

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On Jan. 24, a contingent of local leaders stood before the Moffat County Housing Authority board -- a panel that focuses solely on senior citizens' housing needs -- and asked the board to broaden its scope to include all demographics.

While the housing board remains noncommittal in moving forward with the request, the editorial board believes the presentation touched on an important subject that needs earnest discussion -- affordable housing in Craig and Moffat County.

The federal government defines affordable housing as rent or mortgage payments no more than 30 percent of the household income. According to the Community Indicators Projects, 25 percent of renters and 17 percent of homeowners are above this threshold.

The problem isn't expected to get better. According to the CIP, most area jobs are in the service industry with wages that pay between $9 and $15 per hour.

Therein lies the rub. Those wages can't keep pace with rising, across the board home prices, the CIP found.

Those making the Jan. 24 presentation appeared on behalf of groups such as the Independent Life Center, Moffat County Habitat for Humanity chapter, Colorado Rural Development and Yampa Valley Housing Authority.

In other words, groups experienced in the field and knowledgeable about the impending problem our area faces.

They say Craig and Moffat County have a problem accommodating the housing needs of low-income residents and other demographics.

Based on their position and available data, we believe them. We also believe it's the duty of our area to help low-income residents where we can, and providing suitable, affordable housing is a good place to start.

Affordable housing advocates said a flaw in finding homes lies with the various groups working in the field. There is no starting point, or central organization, to begin the process of finding affordable homes, they said.

The editorial board supports forming a joint panel to research ways for these groups to essentially work under the same banner.

Ideally, this panel would discern whether a collaborative effort uniting resources, expertise and staffing is logistically possible and if it would better address housing needs.

To accomplish this, someone or some organization needs to step up and take the reins. And, judging by last week's housing authority meeting, there is no shortage of people interested in solving this dilemma.

So, now, the only question is, who cares enough to take on this task?

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