Vail Valley Partnership’s board of governors has identified affordable housing as our number one strategic priority area. As locals know, Eagle County’s cost of living is higher than many other places. To no one’s surprise, housing is the key element pushing Eagle County’s overall cost of living above the U.S. average. The Council for Community and Economic Research produces an annual County Cost of Living Index (CCLI) that serves as a measure of relative cost of living between different locations across the county.
Eagle County’s cost of living indexes at 176.30 against a nationwide average of 100. In the CCLI, a number above 100 is more expensive than the U.S. average, and a number below 100 is less expensive than the U.S. average. Housing costs in Eagle County, however, are indexed at 340, while most other consumer goods and services in the county fall slightly above or below the U.S. average, making housing the primary driver elevating local living expenses.
Eagle County faces a gap in the availability of ownership and rental housing that is affordable for local residents. Residents are burdened by high housing payments. Employees are forced to commute long distances. According to the annual workforce survey, employers believe that the availability of workforce housing is a critical or major problem in Eagle County. The Eagle County Housing Assessment shows a shortfall of 4,500 units to meet current needs.
Workforce and affordable housing has long been an issue in Eagle County. The difference today is the demographic data clearly shows an increased need for more affordable housing options for the current and future Eagle County workforce. Addressing our affordable housing issue is essential to the continued success and growth of our business community across industry sectors.
In the current Eagle County housing market (2015 full year sales data), the median sales price has risen to $575,000, close to pre recession levels. In this four-year time period from 2012 to 2016, the area median income (AMI) level has risen 4% while the median sales price of a home in Eagle County has risen 35%. When we look at the current affordability gap we see a $234,310 gap for that 100% AMI family, and even at 140% AMI, there is still a $97,600 gap. These new affordability gap numbers point to the increased need for more affordable housing options for the current and future Eagle County workforce.
Currently and anecdotally, units that have been long-term workforce rentals are being removed from that market as they are converted into short-term rentals. This has the potential to grow both catch-up and keep-up needs for workforce housing.
We want to ensure our community can remain competitive to keep locals local and to support our business community.