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Facts don’t back statements

Columnist Sheldon Fingerman recently expressed the fear that our affordable program will result in a large body of retired workers hanging around Aspen.

“Every employee housing project in the valley will eventually become retirement housing,” he states, reiterating one of Pepper Gomes’ rationales for opposing the housing program.

Actually, the contrary proposition is much in evidence: There may come a time when affordable housing is the only part of the community not dedicated to retirement living.

The statistics on our aging population are clear and unbiased. The census data shows that the blocks that are exclusively affordable housing are aging at a much slower rate than the rest of the community.

For example, Mr. Gomes’ unit in Hunter Creek is part of a statistical neighborhood with a median age in the 30s. Other census blocks that are comprised entirely of affordable housing units have similarly resisted the trend: for example the Snowmass Mountain View block has a median age in the low 30s.

The voter rolls tell the same story: the declining number of younger voters (under 40) are increasingly concentrated in affordable housing neighborhoods.

The fact is that affordable housing units do turn over and the incoming buyers tend to be young, much younger than the buyers of free-market residential property. Free-market neighborhoods in Aspen are losing population in all of the 20 to 45 age groups.

These statistics are consistent with the observation that second- (or third-) home buyers are typically (but not uniformly) older. It takes most buyers many years to accumulate the funds and time off that make a free-market home in Aspen a possibility.

Thus, some of the census blocks with no affordable housing show populations with median ages of 50 or more. I will send the appropriate data bases to any interested reader on request to mick@sopris.net.

Beyond the number crunching, I don’t understand what is wrong with someone deciding, after decades of hard work in our multi-job lifestyle, to remain in Aspen as a retiree. Are not older people, even older workers, an asset to the community they helped create?

I believe extended families and a mix of age groups is a good thing, not a problem to be solved by shipping our workers downvalley before they get it in their heads to stay here permanently.

Mick Ireland

Aspen


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