By Paige Elliott
Special to The SUN
Housing, the second report of the 2015-16 edition of the Southwest Colorado Index, is now available. This report examines a variety of housing indicators and trends, including rental costs and home prices, and provides a list of organizations across the region that offer housing assistance.
The index takes a comprehensive look at specific topics in order to measure the overall economic, social and environmental health of the communities in Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties — which comprise Region 9.
Key findings: In many communities (with the exception of Dove Creek, Bayfield and the Town of Dolores), actual rents were up to 45 percent higher than the Fair Market Rents determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Durango had the highest rents in La Plata County. In Montezuma County, rents were highest in Mancos. In some communities, such as Ignacio and Silverton, rental rates were not readily available.
When rent expenses are linked to livable wages, most families need to earn above the basic wages per hour, or get a second job, to obtain the income needed for rental housing.
Home ownership is out of reach for many families in the region. Interest rates have gone down (from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent) since the last report in 2008, but median home prices have surpassed pre-recession levels in many areas. Based on the area median income determined by HUD for 2014, however, a greater percentage of families in each county qualify for a median-priced home than in 2008.