The story regarding the need for more category 1 housing might reflect a want — but building more housing, especially category 1, is cruel.
I hope the housing study sessions examine the job inventory and the effect of increasing the supply of cheap housing on wages, before they embark on a plan to further suppress wages and push our middle-aged employees into poverty.
Empirical evidence is suggesting the rate of underemployment locally is high. But without real data and study, it is difficult to quantify. What I am observing is, the help wanted advertisements in Aspen are few. It appears to be fairly easy entry for younger employees into a broad spectrum of jobs. But those over 45 aren’t interviewed. This is the group that lost work when the housing bubble burst. (People forget that the industry that revolved around real estate created 82 percent of the money flowing into Aspen. Cut that money in half, and a lot of people don’t have work.)
The over 40s already own affordable housing. It is cruel to build ridiculously inexpensive housing at one-fifth to half the cost many of those seeking employment paid for their housing. The underemployed in affordable housing won’t be able to sell their more expensive units to leave the valley, because people can buy cheaper category 1.
And bad for all employees: Increasing cheap housing inventory acts to further suppress wages. If you are paying $500 per month for housing, you can live on $13 an hour. But if you pay $1100 per month, it takes $18 to have the same amount left over. If an employer has applicants pleased to earn $14, why would they offer $18? The more housing we build, the longer wages will stay stagnant or decline.
I exchanged emails with our mayor copying City Council on this subject — but it appears to no avail. I hope by writing this letter, the public will vocally question the direction we are headed and personally speak to council and commissioners. Before another cent is spent to build housing, we need to quantify our job market.