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KSJD Local Newscast - June 25, 2024

The biggest housing challenge in Montezuma County is not that there are too few houses but that many available homes are fairly old. That was one message given to the county commissioners Monday in a presentation by an employee of Ayres Associates, a firm with expertise in infrastructure. Ayres was awarded a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to do a housing-needs assessment for the county. Planning and economic-development associate Mike Scholl of Ayres told the commissioners that big spikes in population are not causing a housing shortage locally, as the county’s population has remained fairly stable over time. Scholl said 45 percent of local housing stock was built before 1979. Many locals say there are houses available at affordable prices, but because of their age another $50,000 to $75,000 would need to be put into them to bring them up to code. He said housing needs and challenges differ widely across the county. Mancos is experiencing the most pressure in terms of housing costs because of overflow from La Plata County. Dolores has a large proportion of part-time residents and has limited housing availability because of the nearby river and steep slopes. Cortez has an abundant supply of houses but new ones are few, with construction costs putting new homes out of reach for many people. Scholl said a final report with recommendations should be coming in late July.

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Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.