A housing study commissioned by the town of Mancos bolsters the case for bringing more housing to the area, town board members learned at an April 5 workshop meeting.
“The bottom line is we need more housing,” Town Administrator Andrea Phillips said.
The board commissioned the study from Denver-based firm Prior and Associates. The project cost was $10,000, and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs reimbursed half the cost to the town.
The 100-page report includes information about housing trends and needs for the town and surrounding Mancos Valley, as well as details on the area’s economy and demographics.
The study primarily looks at Mancos and surrounding valley, including Weber Canyon, Mesa Verde National Park and the foothills of the La Plata Mountains northeast of town. That area has about 3,400 residents.
It also considers most of Montezuma and La Plata counties as a larger study area, with about 82,000 residents.
Population in the Mancos Valley grew 1.4 percent each year between 2000 and 2010, according to the study. Between 2010 and 2017, the population grew about 1.1 percent each year.
The study predicts that the population will follow that growth trend over the next five years, rising about 1.3 percent each year. That would mean about 3,600 people would be living in the area by 2022.
About 71 percent of homes in the Mancos area were built between 1970 and 2010, according to the study. Another 20 percent were built before World War II. Development has stagnated over the last decade, and less than 1 percent of homes in the area were built during that time.
To accommodate population growth, Montezuma and La Plata counties will need an additional 865 new rental units over the next five years, the study suggests.
Five new rental developments are planned or have been proposed in the area, which would add about 354 units. More than 500 units still are needed, though, according to the study.
The Mancos area can absorb 62 new rental units in the next five years, with about 22 of those for seniors, according to the study.
An overwhelming 84 percent of Mancos residents work outside the town, according to the study.
Because Mancos has lower housing prices than Durango, Mancos attracts people who work in Durango but are looking for a lower cost of living, the study states.
Phillips said the area definitely sees that, with people from La Plata County increasing the demand for housing in Mancos. Mayor Queenie Barz said she worried that since people from La Plata County make higher wages than those in Montezuma County, they can afford more expensive housing in Mancos and are pricing out locals.
Town Trustee Ed Hallam suggested exploring alternative housing options such as “sweat equity” homes, in which buyers build a portion of the home in exchange for a reduced down payment. He said the housing study would be crucial information for people who might want to develop housing in Mancos.
“Mancos has the desire for growth, and it needs growth,” Hallam said.