On August 31 Larimer County held the first meeting of its workforce housing task force. The group included Congressman Jared Polis (briefly), State Senator John Kefalas, County Commissioners Tom Donnelly and Lew Gaiter, the mayor of Johnstown, Loveland City Council member Leah Johnson, a staff representative from Timnath, representatives from FCBR and LBAR, and an employee of New Belgium Brewing Company, to name a few.
Tom Donnelly mentioned that 63 percent of Larimer County residents are homeowners. Jacob Castillo, who is in charge of economic development for the County, provided an economic snapshot of the issue. He said the focus of the group would be housing for middle-income earners. Workforce housing, he said, is tied to geography; being able to live close to your work. According to County statistics, only 10.6 percent of homeowners are under the age of 35, highlighting the growing difficulty of young workers to afford homes.
The task force then came up with a list of the reasons why owning or renting is becoming unaffordable and ideas to solve the problem. In general, the solutions included less restrictive government regulations, such as increased height and density in new construction, changing construction defect legislation and the cost of land. The group will be asked to rank the issues by priority to continue the discussion at the next meeting towards the end of September. Larimer County staff and Commissioner Donnelly closed the meeting by saying they want the task force to come up with real, practical solutions.