“It’s glorified homelessness, let’s be honest… We’re completely landlocked, and we do not have bedroom communities like Telluride has Norwood and Rico and Ridgway. Real estate is skyrocketing and things are selling faster than they can be built.”– DeAnne Gallegos, Executive Director of the Silverton Chamber of Commerce
The housing crisis faced throughout the ski industry right now is no secret. Colorado has been at the forefront of those struggles, especially in Southwestern Colorado. Towns like Telluride and Crested Butte are very remote and have few towns to commute from if you can’t find anything in town. According to the Colorado Sun, Silverton faces perhaps the toughest housing crisis in the state. Silverton has no adjacent towns and is very rural, making the housing and labor crisis even worse.
The average house price in town is $450,000, there is little land available to build housing developments, and rentals are very rare to find. People who live in town work multiple positions, but struggle to find housing, and employers in town can’t find enough workers. Twelve affordable housing units are being built but already face a waiting list. A short construction season due to the massive snowfall also creates challenges to getting more houses built. And just like many mountain towns, Short term rentals on Airbnb and VRBO have sped up the crisis. Many locals are practically homeless, living in RVs, cars, or camps in tents.
The ski town has two mountains that have minimal lift service. There is the insane and technical Silverton Mountain. Then there’s the much easier and more family-focused Kendall Mountain. Neither mountain really requires many workers compared to other resorts in the state. Outside of a few lift operators, ski patrollers, and mechanics, the operations are bare bones. To their credit though, Silverton Mountain rents a property to workers, where they rent rooms at an affordable rate. Other workers at the mountain rent out their houses to their fellow colleagues.
But with these quieter remote mountains come ski bums that are looking for a simpler life from a prior era of Colorado skiing. It’s hard to find this kind of technical terrain like you see in Silverton anywhere, especially in Colorado, where the fresh snow gets tracked out easily by the I-70 crowd. In short, Colorado mountain towns are going to have to get creative to solve their housing woes, especially in Silverton.Image Credits: Silverton Mountain, Kendall Mountain, Unsplash, Colorado Sun