Survey offers glimpse of how Coloradans live |

Survey offers glimpse of how Coloradans live

DENVER (AP) – Colorado had the sixth-highest median cost of a home nationwide at $169,070, even beating out New York, according to estimates released Monday from the Census 2000 Supplementary Survey.

Meanwhile, the median household income was the tenth-highest at $46,738.

The survey also suggested huge increases in the number of Colorado homeowners with five or more vehicles and the number of houses with nine or more rooms in the past decade.

The increase accompanied a bullish stock market that let more people retire early and afford lavish second homes, state demographer Jim Westkott has said.

The survey, distributed separately from the 2000 Census, offered a glimpse of how Coloradans live and an estimate of what results from the 2000 Census long form will show.

It was distributed to 700,000 households in 1,203 counties nationwide, including 11 in Colorado: El Paso, Larimer, Weld, Mesa, Delta, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Adams, Jefferson and Denver.

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Results from the national headcount should provide a broader look at social trends because they will be based on forms mailed to 120 million households.

Last year, 81,112 Coloradans paid at least $1,000 in monthly rent, more than seven times the number of people who paid that much in 1990, the survey estimated. The median monthly rent was $686. An estimated 728,618 Coloradans are paying a mortgage.

The survey estimated that 30,654 people didn’t have telephone service; 90,814 had no car; 5,885 homes did not have complete plumbing.

Gas remained the most popular heating choice for homes, followed by electricity, with 9,021 homes using coal or coke, according to the survey. An estimated 1,139 homes were using solar energy.

While the rich got richer in the 1990s, some middle-income families got mobile homes. There were 102,869 households in mobile homes in 2000, according to the survey, representing 5.7 percent of overall housing.

“It’s a reaction to the lack of affordable housing,” said Bill Kendall, president of the research and consulting firm Center for Business and Economic Forecasting. “This is a housing alternative.”

Rising costs have changed how some communities deal with affordable housing for not only the homeless but also migrant workers, seasonal ski workers, police officers and hospital employees, said Sam Mamet of the Colorado Municipal League.

This summer the University of Colorado started offering financial housing assistance to tenured and tenure-track professors. The median home price in Boulder last year was about $355,000.

“With the housing market up here the way it is, even the reasonably well-heeled person has trouble finding appropriate housing here,” said Todd Gleeson, a biology professor and associate vice chancellor for faculty affairs.

“People who make $50,000 are oftentimes forced to find less acceptable housing or housing farther away. That’s not good for our students. The cultural offerings on campus are not as rich as if faculty lived close.”

A lack of affordable housing near city centers may be one reason more people are reporting longer commutes, Kendall said.

“The Denver Tech Center is a good case in point. While there are middle- to low-paying jobs out there, there’s not much affordable housing. So workers have to commute longer distances, which means more congestion on the roads. Boulder is another example,” Kendall said.

According to the census survey, the 115,997 people who travel more than an hour to get to work make up 5.5 percent of all commuters.

The survey did not indicate the length of the average commute. The national headcount should include a broader picture of commuting habits.

“We’ll know a lot more after census results come out next year,” said Jeff May of the Denver Regional Council of Governments.

The supplemental survey focused on a total of 9,747 people.

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