Telluride’s Real Estate Slamming the Door on Affordable Housing


PJ Hulst, Staff Writer

The available real estate in Telluride, Colorado continues to rapidly decrease, causing a major housing shortage that is affecting businesses’ ability to hire workers and maintain their businesses. 

Due to Telluride’s limited numbers of houses on the market and the high desirability to live here, any house that comes to the market has an astronomical price tag that few can afford. The type of housing varies widely in Telluride, from the small apartments to the high-end luxurious homes. Yet, even the size and style of the homes don’t affect this. A small house in the Town of Telluride is a million and half dollars! This blocks any average person who wants to make a living here from being able to buy or even rent in Telluride. 

It’s not only the Town of Telluride that is affected by the increasing real estate prices due to the lack of land that can be built on, but the entire Telluride Valley isn’t zoned for much building space. As more people decide that building a new house outside of town might be less expensive, they are also faced with the limited amount of land, and the land that is available is expensive. So building outside of town isn’t really an option for the average person, either.  

Material is also a major factor that makes building much more expensive and difficult in Telluride. Alpine Lumber is the only lumber supplier in the county, which places them immediately at the top of Telluride’s market; they’re the only game in town. Nonetheless, Alpine is faced with the difficulty of being able to get the material produced and transported to Telluride. A major amount of the lumber is going to be of the highest quality, because of the high  amount of affluent homeowners who expect and demand high-quality wood and materials. Those materials are more expensive and much harder to produce and ship, which in turn drives all other prices up.

There is also a lack of contractor and skilled construction labor, which ironically is due to the shortage of affordable housing. The lack of labor also contributes to the high cost of building, which in turn, makes local rent and real estate expensive.

Moreover, with the lack of qualified workers entering the trade, the amount of work being completed is low. Telluride is also in competition for workers in the Denver area. The limited number of younger workers are being drawn to the Denver area due to the abundance of good-paying jobs, and of course, more affordable housing.  The people that do work in Telluride are left with the options of driving long distances, or trying their wild luck on finding a long-term housing space to live in during the work project. Many workers aren’t able to do this and are left with leaving the area to find better work. 

In the near future, Telluride will have no other choice but to come up with a solution to attract more workers and keep housing listings reasonable, otherwise Telluride will be left with the soul of the town being lost, as local stores are forced to close because of high rent and a diminishing work force.

Currently, Telluride is proposing two new ballots, 2d and 300, which are designed to begin to address the affordable housing problem and the short-term rental housing business. Clear descriptions of what each ballot proposes can be found on pages 7 and 8 in the document below. Read them and join the the movement to find solutions.