Affordable housing is an enormous challenge in Colorado, in both urban and rural areas. This new tool from the National Low Income Housing Coalition provides insight into just how big the problem is. The tool has breakdowns by both state and county of fair market rent levels, average wages, and wages needed to afford a typical 0-4-bedroom space, among other things. One of the most interesting metrics is the number of hours worked per week necessary to afford housing. In Colorado, a state with a higher minimum wage than most at $11.10, one person must work 73 hours per week in order to afford a one-bedroom rental at the market rate.
This figure varies at the county level but is still not encouraging. Alamosa County residents must work 46 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom, El Paso County residents 58 hours, and Denver County residents 83 hours, or more than two full-time jobs.
Metrics like these are why Energy Resource Center is so important to the affordable housing conversation. Our services are FREE to income-qualified homes, both renters and homeowners, and save an average of 25% on families’ utility bills. These families are also able to live comfortably. In the winter, they can turn the thermostat to a comfortable level and still pay less than they used to. No matter what the rent or mortgage is, housing cannot be affordable if people cannot pay their utility bills. Our work helps families stay safe, warm, and comfortable across 27 counties in Colorado. Find out if you qualify for our services here.