Report Quantifies The Dearth Of Affordable Housing In The West

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition spotlights the severe lack of affordable housing in parts of the Mountain West.

The shortage of rental units for low income people is particularly dire in Nevada, Utah and Colorado.

In Colorado and Utah, for example, the report shows that there are only 31 rental units available for every 100 renter households in the lowest income bracket, which the report defines as at or below the poverty level or 30% of the area median income. In Nevada, there are only 18 rental units for every 100 such households, according to the report.

"People living at that lower income level are much more likely to be cost-burdened," said Cathy Alderman with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. That means they're spending more than half of their income on rent. "Which makes them much more vulnerable to being evicted, displaced, or losing their housing."

Alderman points to rapid growth in Colorado and across the Mountain West as one reason for the affordable housing shortage. According to the report, the region is starting to see more housing availability for middle-income renters, but that hasn’t been true for people living in poverty. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.