Christina Uhl grew emotional Tuesday night as she told the Steamboat Springs City Council it needs to think more about the workers who are renting couches or who have left because they can`t afford to live here.
“One of the things that has never been a very big concern of the City Council is the fact that a majority of our workforce in Steamboat Springs have an income that is at or below $30,000 a year,” Uhl told the council.
Uhl, in her late 20s, is a Steamboat native.
She said she currently lives with three other people, including a person who lives on a couch.
Previously, she said she has had to leave Steamboat because of the high cost of housing.
As the council was hearing about a potential development of seven neighborhoods that could add 1,600 new housing units on the west end of the city, Uhl said the price tags on these housing units and others that will come are important.
If they are just catered to those making $50,000 a year, she said it would still leave a large portion of the population struggling to live here.
“We are the heartbeat,” Uhl said. “We will not have a Howelsen Hill complex. We will not have gas stations. We will not have grocery stores or the resort being run if we don`t have a place for the people who are making $10 to $15 an hour to live.”
She urged the council and the city to spend less time debating architectural drawings and the colors of buildings and more time on efforts to help spur efforts to make housing for lower-income workers.
Matt Eidt, chairman of the Young Professionals Network in Steamboat and a local Realtor, told the council the city is at a crossroads.
“Do we want to be a great place to vacation but overall a community of locals, or do we want to end up an exclusive resort town for the super wealthy?” Eidt asked. “I think we all know the answer to that.”
The council`s discussion on the west Steamboat neighborhoods and the potential for development on the former Steamboat 700 parcel generated several passionate comments at Tuesday`s work session.
The young professionals said they know of many young workers who have good credit and jobs but still choose to move to places such as the Front Range because of more affordable housing options.
The City Council is currently working to study the local housing issue.
A steering committee was formed to study the issue and come up with recommendations.
According to the committee application, the group will “take on the difficult tasks of defining our community housing problems, developing goals and measures of success, and creating implementation strategies for achieving our community housing goals.”