TCH: Affordable Housing Shortage Impacts Local Businesses

TCH: Affordable Housing Shortage Impacts Local Businesses

Telluride’s affordable housing shortage impacts local businesses. Consensus: “It’s worse than ever.” For more information about programs created and supported by the Trust for Community Housing (CH) or to support the organization itself,  visit or call Amy Levek, Executive Director, 970-708-7678.

Go here for details about an innovative rental program initiated by TCH and posted on Telluride Inside… and Out.


The Trust for Community Housing (TCH) has been closely monitoring the regional supply of rental units. While those built and owned by local governments provide an important and significant part of the regional housing stock, privately owned units house many of our local workers. This year’s real estate boom, along with an influx of Covid refugees, have significantly diminished the supply of rental units and caused a spike in rents that are inflicting pain on local workers and wreaking havoc on businesses.

“The housing situation has gotten worse,” observes Ray Farnsworth of the New Sheridan Hotel and Chophouse. “There’s not enough affordable housing which means not enough qualified workers, leaving us with empty positions.”

That sentiment is echoed by other local employers.

Housing is a basic component of the local economy and helps ensure a vibrant community as well. TCH routinely researches and analyzes data relevant to housing. The 2019 TCH economic study examined how the housing shortage was affecting businesses. At that time, 59% of employers indicated that the lack of housing was a critical or severe problem, costing local businesses $4.3 million to recruit and replace current or potential employees who could not find places to live. Now the problem is even worse, with the real estate boom displacing even more renters.

TCH has initiated outreach to new owners who have bought a home with an accessory or caretaker unit, encouraging them to rent the extra unit to a local worker.

“We welcome our new residents, and hope that they understand how important it is to have local employees,” said Amy Levek, Executive Director of TCH.

Levek then ticked off a number of benefits for the owners as well. 

“Not only will they have income, but they will also have ‘eyes on the ground’ that can provide information about potential property issues,” Levek says. “They’ll also have easy access to info on local events and the satisfaction of maintaining the spirit of our community. Plus it will help keep the businesses they appreciate healthy.”

To make it easy for those who want to rent, TCH formed a partnership with Landing Locals, a business that does the work of finding a qualified and suitable renter for owners. Landing screens potential renters, does the background checks and references and all the legwork to find a local employee who meets an owner’s criteria.

Bobbi Lynn Smith of Between the Covers, who has lived in Telluride for over 30 years, says that the housing shortage is “worse than it has ever been.”

“We need these employees to run Telluride – to cook, sell wine and run our stores,” she notes. “Without them, there is no Telluride.”

She “implores those who can to rent out you mother-in-law units,” noting the advantage of having someone “to look after your place.”

Carmella Sanna, co-owner of Rustico and La Piazza lost three employees this season because they could not find housing:

“I’m desperate, and I hope that those who can, will understand and open their caretaker units so that we can help you.”

Elena Levin echoed Sanna’s concerns:

“People might be unaware how Covid has made housing more expensive and difficult. Even with the uncertainty of Covid, people still need to have housing. This is a core thing and about health and security.”

Trust for Community Housing, more:

The Trust for Community Housing, the Telluride region’s only non-profit devoted to affordable housing, is working to preserve community through increasing housing opportunities. We do this through programs like the Housing Opportunity Fund, which helps qualified buyers and renters working in our community with costs of securing housing.

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