The Colorado Springs Gazette – BJ Scott is co-founder of the Affordable Housing Collaborative and longtime health care expert across the Pikes Peak Region.

Opticos principal Daniel Parolek inspired a new movement for housing choice in 2010 when he introduced the concept of the “missing middle” in American housing. Opticos is a team of urban designers, architects, and strategists who help communities find new solutions to challenging housing and community issues. 

So, what is it? The “middle” refers to a couple of things:
1. A middle form and scale between single family and multifamily buildings; and
2. Housing affordability by design for middle income households.

These two elements are missing across America and in El Paso County. This visual depiction may help. It is essential to have more of these missing middle housing types in El Paso County for many of our friends and neighbors in middle income households…seniors, retail, food service and construction workers, registered nurses, enlisted military, entry level teachers and even middle managers.

But why? About 83% of neighborhoods in Colorado Springs are zoned for single families. This may have served most of us well in the past but shifting demographics cause us to consider different types of homes. Today, 30% of American households are single persons. By 2025 75-85% of households will not have children. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be over age 65. And, finally, a fact that we know all too well in El Paso County, more and more households cannot afford single family homes.  

There are numerous examples of missing middle buildings on the Opticos website that have been built in many cities we compete with for economic development. Check them out and let’s zone for and build missing middles for our workforce.

Featured Image by Opticos