By Spencer Wilson

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s been an uphill battle for Robert Murphy, Executive Director of the Summit Combined Housing Authority.

“The prices have gone up really, really high in the last few years,” Murphy explained. “There are a lot of people who are struggling to live here, and (there’s) just not enough units.”

He’s referring to units or homes for people to live in Summit County. Home to places like Frisco, Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Dillon. His organization works to help create workforce housing for people living and working in town in a community with a large percentage of homes being second homes.

(credit: CBS)

It’s struggle is finding a way to keep costs down for residents, while getting more homes built at the same time. It’s part of why they’ve turned to deed-restricted homes, like the ones built in the Smith Ranch Community in Silverthorne.

“Things have gone up so much just in the last few years that for a lot of working folks in Summit County. These deed restricted properties are the only opportunity to put down roots and own a place,” Murphy said.

There have always been more applicants for the deed-restricted homes in Summit County than homes themselves, so they’ve taken to using a lottery system for new builds. The latest and last lottery just finished in March, with 27 lucky people getting the opportunity of a lifetime, and 84 people getting nothing but massive disappointment.

“People seem desperate in a lot of cases and it is fair to be desperate,” Murphy said. “I mean there are folks who are potentially on the edge of homelessness and folks who have lived here for a long time and have been waiting for the opportunity to buy a place and put down roots and have watched that disappear as the prices have skyrocketed.”

Rent prices have gone up as well. It’s not uncommon for people to offer spare rooms up in homes for thousands of dollars, showing the market value of even part of a home. Some simply are unable to afford living here, and that is changing the shape of the county, according to Murphy.

“It’s really directly affecting the ability of businesses to keep their doors open as well…the ability to provide services, the ability to keep teachers, firefighters, policemen, medical personnel, restaurant servers, anything you can think of that is a part of keeping things running up here in Summit County,” Murphy said.

Local officials have agreed there’s not one fix to the housing crisis in our mountain communities, but that anything that can be done should be done to help ease the pressure. In terms of deed-restricted homes, Murphy said things are a ways away from another lottery.

“There are definitely things coming down the pipeline but we are talking about this in terms of years. So I think the best chance for a purchase is for people to keep an eye on the resale market.”

Spencer Wilson