In recent weeks, Colorado Community Media unveiled the long-time-coming series — The Long Way Home. Throughout most of 2022, all our reporters from all regions worked on developing an in-depth look at the housing crisis.
This look took us to people in focus groups, interviews, research and a lot of eye-opening discoveries. It is something I am proud to have been a part of given what we can share with the public in terms of how the housing issues we are seeing now were not developed in one year.
In fact, these issues we are seeing are decades in the making.
We broke down how people are affected by the growing crisis. The single mom is struggling to pay rent. The homeless man who ran into some bad luck and just can’t get back on his feet. Black families are treated differently in applications for rentals and mortgages.
These articles that are running over four weeks mean a lot to our reporters because as our teams continued working and getting educated, they truly began to understand that a crisis doesn’t develop overnight and fixing the problems will not happen soon.
When our baby boomers cannot sell their home and move to smaller living quarters — there is a problem. Why? Because those homes they would vacate would be useful to growing families — a supply issue becomes prominent.
Pricing is another issue. When a home my family purchased eight years ago has doubled in value — it’s not as great as it sounds. You see, the problem is, if I had to buy the same home today — I couldn’t afford it.
That means I also cannot sell in this market. I cannot sell it because I may make money on my house but it would have to be applied to another ridiculously-priced house somewhere else. Can’t do it. Can’t afford it.
These problems point to supply problems too. When no one is selling — there is nothing for others to buy.
Then, you keep digging. You learn that first-time homes are so overpriced that couples can’t afford to move up in the world. They have to keep renting or living with parents. This is going to lead to bigger problems in the future if solutions are not created.
One of the parts of the series, in a story that comes out this week, that intrigued me most is how the growing housing crisis impacts the American dream. Sure the American dream of owning a home and building a family is somewhat of a cliche, but it is one we’ve had for a long time.
When families no longer believe they will ever have enough money to own a home, when families can’t get ahead in this country no matter how successful they are — the American dream cannot survive.
Instead, they redefine and reestablish what the American dream is. Wil that help or hurt our economy? Will a lack of families moving into our communities cause schools to close at higher rates?
When local communities are making it nearly impossible for our working-class citizens to get a home and live comfortably — they will leave.
That means employee shortages and more problems in the future.
The problem with the ongoing housing crisis is it will and does touch all levels of our lives and ignoring it or hoping the market will just correct on its own is never going to happen.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.