By Jamie Leary

FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4) – Another space for the Summit County workforce is set to open next week. It is one of many solutions the county hopes to get the ball rolling on in the near future, but the need? It’s hard to keep pace with.

(credit: CBS)

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“We probably have a 3,000-unit gap right now so, you know, with that we’re looking at a variety of options to help mitigate this problem,” said Jason Dietz, Summit County’s Housing Director.

The Alpine Inn, a former hotel, will be ready to welcome Summit County’s workforce housing next week. Dietz says it will serve as more of a transitional option while people look for more permanent solutions.

Unfortunately, longer-term solutions are hard to come by in Summit County. Dietz says about 66% of the housing in the county isn’t being utilized by locals.

“About a third of it is occupied by locals, about a third of it is short-term rentals and about a third of it is unoccupied second homeowners,” said Dietz.

The Alpine Inn has already received more than 140 applications, and there are 26 units available for qualified locals. Other units will help the sheriff’s office which needs affordable housing, the transit center employees, teachers, and small business employees. Dietz is aware it’s not enough and says the Inn is just one of many solutions in the pipeline.

(credit: CBS)

“Options from preservation of existing housing stock, buy-downs, conversion of short-term rentals to long term (kicking off this fall), lightening up restrictions on accessory dwelling units, creation of new workforce housing such as Lake Hill, Wintergreen Ridge…” he said.

The town is also partnering with local towns. It’s working with Dillon on the US Forest Service Compound in the area. It’s also working with Breckenridge on a parcel of land and plans to head to Buena Vista next week to tour Fading West, a new modular home construction facility. It’s a style of home that could dramatically speed up the building process for some of the vacant land the county has identified.

Still, Summit’s local non-profit, the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, or FIRC, says people are living in cars or camping and the window for warm weather is closing.

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Ruth Graham has lived and worked in Summit County for five years. When the owners of her rental decided to sell, she had so much trouble finding a new rental, she was ready to do just that. Camp.

“And it’s not just about Ruth,” she said pointing to herself, “it’s about the people that live and serve this community.”

Ruth, fortunately, found another rental just before she had to move out. Up to that point, she was filling out applications daily.

(credit: CBS)

“I’ve done so many application forms, I’ve paid so much money, because you can’t do the application forms without money. Every form you do, you have to pay,” she continued, “and every time I do it, ‘Oh sorry, you didn’t get this apartment,’” she said, exasperated.

One rental required her to make $9,000 per month.

“Who is working $9,000 a month?” She exclaimed. “We just need help to find somewhere affordable where we can live, be happy and save a dollar.”

The county is working faster than it ever has-

“With housing, there’s not a quick fix and there’s no silver bullet. We need to look at a lot of different strategies and partnerships with the public sector the private sector and non-profits to all work together to address this issue,” said Dietz.

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Jamie Leary