Housing study suggests Pueblo County will need nearly 10,000 units in next 10 years

James Bartolo – The Pueblo Chieftain – Nov 5, 2021


Projections in a Pueblo Housing and Assessment and Strategy study forecast a need for 9,561 housing units in Pueblo County over the next decade.

The study conducted by the City of Pueblo’s Housing and Citizen Services with Gruen Gruen and Associates was presented to Pueblo City Council during the Nov. 1 work session. Housing needs for the next 10 years include 4,325 workforce housing units, 3,649 senior housing units and 1,587 housing replacement units.

“The purpose of the study was to evaluate the housing market to quantify housing needs, understand factors contributing to those needs and then recognize a strategic approach to addressing needs in the future,” said Andrew Ratchford, senior analyst for Gruen Gruen and Associates.

To gather information for the assessment, participating entities toured neighborhoods across the county and interviewed about 20 local professionals, Ratchford said. Professionals included housing non-profits, builders, real estate brokers, downtown developers, bankers and Pueblo Housing Authority representatives.

An electronic housing survey was also developed by Gruen Gruen Associates with help from Housing and Citizen Services Director Bryan Gallagher. About 500 Pueblo County residents responded to the survey.

“Pueblo isn’t immune from the reality that unaffordable housing supply can become a major constraint to economic development,” Ratchford said. “Attracting and retaining an adequately sized labor force requires a diverse and competitive priced housing stock.”

While the study indicates construction activity has recently increased, activity has yet to reach pre-2008 recession levels. Lack of available inventory combined with pricing increases have created “extremely competitive” for-sale and “under-supplied” rental housing markets in Pueblo County, according to the study.

“The for-sale housing market is operating on less than one month’s supply with an average loan price exceeding $300,000; it has basically doubled in about seven years,” Ratchford said.

“The rental market is characterized by extremely low vacancy rates, a long-term pattern of strong rent growth, and large rent premiums for newer apartment properties, They are experiencing changing migration patterns from higher-cost markets to place pressure on existing housing supply.”

Almost 55% of home renters are identified as “cost-burdened” by the study. A renter is considered cost-burdened if they spend at least 30% of their income on housing. Renters are more likely to express dissatisfaction with their housing situation compared to homeowners in Pueblo, according to the study.

“Many older neighborhoods are experiencing remodeling and reinvestment,” Ratchford said. “This seems to be concentrated in areas such as Aberdeen, the Historic North Side or County Club neighborhoods, Mesa Junction and other Central High School neighborhoods.”

Neighborhoods in north Pueblo are expected to see a great upcoming change in redevelopment. This prediction is primarily attributed to an increase in residents commuting to work in Colorado Springs, Fort Carson and other areas north of Pueblo.

For those recruited to work in Pueblo, the study identified a workforce housing shortage.

Objectives for the city recommended by the study include implementing workforce and affordable housing incentives into development codes, increasing construction of single and multi-family units and repurposing vacant buildings for housing. Other recommendations include promoting mobility for those with Housing Choice Vouchers, amending zoning codes to address construction of Accessory Dwelling Units, encouraging shared equity programs for homeowners and encouraging community land trusts, according to the study.