New programs hope to address unaffordable housing issue

Local News


The average price of a home in Mesa County grew from $280,000 last year to $325,000 this year, according to the Bray Residential Real Estate Statistics Report. “You’re not going to move here for a job if you can’t also afford a house,” said Diane Schwenke with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce.

Out of 400 active residential listings in August, 31 of them are below $200,000, but 147 of them are half a million or more, according to the Bray Report. Schwenke says the recovering economy is pointing to an ironic issue. “For employers specifically, the lack of affordable/attainable housing in our community is becoming a barrier for them in terms of trying to attract and keep employees in our valley,” said Schwenke.

Schwenke says employers and chamber members are working with government officials to find strategies to add affordable inventory. City Council came up with 12 strategies, but the chamber is focusing on the top three. “Streamlining processes, providing incentives to developers for a certain type of product that’s a little bit more affordable for our workers, and it may even be something as simple as what they’re already doing in terms of making it easier for existing homeowners to add auxiliary dwelling units,” said Schwenke. Mayor Chuck McDaniel says, “Those things will be implemented over a period from 1-2 years, some from 2-4 years, and some at the 5-6 year limit.”

Data from the Bray Report shows from January 1st to August 31st in 2021, 2,740 homes were sold in Mesa County, but only 784 of the homes sold were in the starter home price between $200 and $299 thousand. Over $233,000 is the price of an average home in the country, according to the National Association of Realtors. “We talked about funding new positions in the city to address the housing needs, and also funding programs that would help us address those needs,” said Mayor McDaniel.

The city is currently short 2,100 rental units at a rate of $1,200 a month, but Mayor McDaniel says the city council is focused on new programs to address those needs.

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