Gentrification is the process of affluent people moving into an area and paying a higher than normal prices for goods, services, and real estate.  Thanks to their relentless  upscaling of real estate, they eventually price home ownership out of reach for the average wage earner.  

That said, I turned to the June 25 Denver Post Business Section and saw a headline titled, “Study calls for state-wide action,” with the subtitle, “Affordable-Housing Shortfall.”  According to reporter Aldo Svaldi, “Colorado is on the verge of an affordable-housing crisis so severe that it could derail the state economy and contribute to a significant deterioration in the quality of life for those priced out of the market.”   Projected through the next five years, this shortfall amounts to 51,190 homes annually. 

The article also states that the state-wide median price of a single-family home sold in May, 2021 was $520,000, which was up 25.3% over the state’s 2020 median home prices.  While the skyrocketing price of lumber no doubt has added to the problem, we’ve been looking at high inflation in real estate prices for the past five years. According to another source, the May, 2021 median price of a home in Chaffee County had risen to a comparable $462,500. Unless our local wages have recently doubled or tripled, a working family of four has just been “up-scaled” into homelessness. 

But gentrification comes in many forms.  Now we have major promotional activities like “The Seven Peaks Music Festival”  attracting thousands of affluent people to our county. Many of these affluent folks might choose to pay top dollar for an existing home or an empty lot, which further increases the price of Chaffee County real estate.   None of this “upscaling” activity is doing the working people of Chaffee County any favors whatsoever.  

Needless to say, nearly every business in town has “Help Wanted” signs posted in their windows.  Thanks to the lack of affordable real estate, it’s easy to see why many workers might be moving on to greener pastures.

Gary E, Goms

Buena Vista

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