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Montezuma County Service Workers Can’t Afford to Buy Housing

August 1, 2023

After a recent Housing Needs Assessment, the City of Cortez is updating the land use code and taking other steps to ensure the town has more housing available for the workforce in the near future. Cortez Mayor, Rachel Medina, talks about ways that the city is working on housing issues with local partners. By Illana Newman. This story is sponsored by Choice Building Supply Ace Hardware and TruWest Auto

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A recent housing needs assessment for the City of Cortez found that the price of housing has increased 16% per year from 2018 to 2022. The city is currently working to update the land use code to provide more affordable and available options for buyers and renters. Right now, many essential workers in the community cannot afford to buy homes in Cortez or the surrounding area. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by TruWest Auto and Choice Building Supply Ace Hardware. I'm Connor Shreve.

My vision, you know, would be, or like, I think our vision is for folks to be able to move here, find a rental that's affordable, save up money, buy their first home, live in this community, and then upgrade or downgrade their housing as needed, and having those options that are all within their price range. You know, we want people to retire in place and be able to stay here, or if they're not going to stay here, you know, if they're retiring, we want the folks who are coming in to replace them and be able to afford their house.

One of the easiest ways for the city to address housing affordability and lack of availability is to allow accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, to be built on more properties. However, the city stipulates that the owner needs to live in one unit on the property to have an ADU, making it a good option to have an additional rental property or a mother-in-law suite for generational living.

We saw ADUs as a first step because that's building houses where infrastructure already is. You know, the utilities are already there, the roads are already there. It's less costly to kind of address housing quicker. You know, the land use code is kind of more long-term you know, and so, because that's for not just places where there's already development but the undeveloped areas as well.

Cortez is struggling with aging infrastructure like roads and water lines, and the city struggles to maintain what already exists, let alone take on new development.

You know, this process is just, it's going to take a long time to address housing, but we're trying to set up those things now so that in the future when development is less costly and more possible, that there are way more options for people and we can meet the need faster.

Other ways the city is hoping to help with housing issues is by waiving or reducing fees for building and increasing the number of units per building as long as affordable units are included. The city is also partnering with nonprofits and other organizations in the community to help create more affordable and available housing in Cortez.

But I think this really shows that the city is only one part of the puzzle, and that we really need to work as a community to address this issue. It's not just housing, it's, you know, if we had the housing option, that's one piece, but then to help the businesses, we need to have a strong school district so that people want to move here and to take those jobs and then they have somewhere to live. It's this whole big picture that we're only a part of, and we're trying our best to address the things that are in our control, but we also want to partner with folks and work with them to kind of help work on this together.

As the City of Cortez is updating the land use code and looking for ways to support housing needs in Cortez, they want to hear from the community. Look out for public meetings or email Linda Smith at the City of Cortez to provide feedback or comments. You can learn more about this story and others at Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Connor Shreve.


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