HOPE for Housing in Alamosa
By Victoria Martinez and Lindsey Wente
The HOPE team’s 2020 Community Health Equity Survey brought to light the impending issue of lack of affordable housing. At our community event on November 10th, young adults elected housing to be the team’s focus in 2022
Yearly, rent prices rise and with wages not reflecting that. People simply cannot afford to live in Alamosa anymore. A local study completed by the San Luis Valley Housing Coalition, recently estimated that within the next 5 years, 1,800 more housing units will be needed. In addition, the buying up of properties for resale at an inflated cost is causing gentrification in Alamosa. Further solidifying the lack of housing justice, especially for minorities and low-income young adults in our community.
The Alamosa community needs protection for renters and more “rent to own” programs. To address the rising housing concerns, the community of young adults that gathered on November 10th put forth a list of possible solutions to the housing issues in Alamosa. The following are some of the communities’ ideas for addressing housing issues:
Build more affordable housing units
Funding for rental assistance
Create a landlord coalition to make fair, equitable, standardized policies, and practices
Better lighting and sidewalks on the south side of Alamosa
Free language services for renters
More protections for renters at the trailer parks in Alamosa
Create a land trust to purchase trailer parks and make them tenant owned
More room for homeless sheltering
Programs to teach and assist with applying for existing programs
By addressing these concerns along with others, the HOPE team seeks to make Alamosa affordable for everyone. For any issue the HOPE team decides to focus on, several factors will need to be considered from a health equity perspective. For example, rent controlled housing is something being discussed. There are many people who make too much to qualify for low-income housing, but not quite enough to afford the rising rent costs. In addition, our team has heard from people with disabilities that it is difficult for them to find rentals that allow them to keep their pets. Some of these pets are assisted living animals, others are emotional support animals. Our team has also heard from the LGBTQ community about how much discrimination they face in finding rentals and from their neighbors. The need for language services is also a big concern.
In 2022 Colorado’s minimum wage is set to increase to $12.56 per hour. However, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Coloradans would have to earn $27.50 an hour in order to not exceed 30% of their income on housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things more difficult for Alamosans to afford housing. The pandemic leaves residents burdened by the costs of housing. Residents have resorted to living with family members or coach surfing (going from house to house). Some have lost their jobs, others have reduced hours, and some have been forced to make difficult decisions about working or taking care of sick family members.
A growing number of residents have said they have received letters in the mail from investment companies offering to buy their homes, even though their homes are not on the market. Some home buyers have been looking for months or over a year to find a home to purchase. When they put in an offer someone else comes along and offers more, or a big investment company offers so much no one else can afford to compete.
The HOPE team understands that housing isn’t just a local issue, but a problem statewide. The team also understands that local organizations are already thinking about some of these issues and working toward solutions in their own way. The team plans to reach out to and work with local, regional, and state organizations on this priority issue.
Anyone interested in learning more, supporting the HOPE team’s work, or joining the team should contact Tori Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.