Check your own housing smarts here

A citizen’s view—


November 29, 2023

Did you know:

Jefferson County ranks 38 out of 39 counties in the state for affordability for first-time, as well as all, home buyers.

Jefferson County’s vacancy rate hovers between 0-1%. The national vacancy rate is 5%.

At any one moment, almost 14% – that’s 2,733 – of the houses in Jefferson County are vacant. That means as we walk through our neighborhoods, the cute houses, we know and love, are empty. No wonder things seem awfully, sort of too, quiet sometimes. But it explains all those drawn curtains and shades.

42% of Jefferson County households are single-person occupancy – that’s one person living in the home. No wonder we don’t hear so many kids playing. I can’t help but think about how many empty bedrooms and empty mother-in-law apartments that accounts for.

We can start by being aware of the issue and our part in it. Wherever you are in the learning process, keep going. If you haven’t begun, then Housing Solutions Network, a local nonprofit committed to providing housing education, resources and advocacy for the local workforce is a good place to start, with Housing 101; or their survey to see how you and or your friends and neighbors are affected by the housing shortage. From there, we need to look at ways to help and that might involve some behavior change.

As seemingly “unpleasant” or irrelevant as it may feel for us, whether we’re homeowners or renters; newcomers or long-time locals, in our tiny homes, mid-century ranch ramblers and Victorian manors, every one of us might want to begin to look at our housing behavior — and see if there’s anything we can do to help. This is more than just those looking to rent, it’s help for the restaurant owners, the hospital and everyone else. It helps us and our community thrive. For example:

• Turn your AirBnb into a long-term rental,

• Move your art studio to your spare bedroom and rent out that ADU,

• Share your home with an on-call hospital staff, barista or farmer.

• Ask your favorite nonprofit/business/community group if they have a housing need for even short-term interns or long-term staff that might fit your space.

Get creative. There are so many great things about home sharing that we don’t hear about. And so many different ways of doing it.


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