By Rich Laden Mar 1, 2024 Updated Mar 6, 2024

Can anything be done to increase the supply of housing and expand affordable housing options in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas?

The Pikes Peak Housing Network hopes to explore those problems — and find solutions.

Community leaders, along with business and housing organizations, formed the nonprofit last summer to serve as a vehicle to study ongoing concerns about skyrocketing housing costs, while it also works to increase the area’s availability of all housing types, among other initiatives.

The Pikes Peak Housing Network is working under the umbrella of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC, whose business members have expressed concerns about a lack of affordable and attainable housing for their employees. The Housing Network will be overseen by a leadership council made up of business people, housing advocates, government officials and others.

The group has a big challenge.

When it was launched, the Pikes Peak Housing Network cited a February 2023 report from the Common Sense Institute — a statewide research group that focuses on economic issues — that said Colorado Springs needed 28,000 to 39,000 additional housing units by 2028 to meet the area’s population growth.

Even so, the pace of residential construction slowed significantly last year in Colorado Springs and surrounding El Paso County, in large part because higher mortgage rates discouraged buyers.

In 2023, building permits that were pulled for the construction of single-family homes and townhomes would add 2,545 units, a nearly 27% decline from 3,478 in 2022, Pikes Peak Regional Building Department figures show. Likewise, building permits for multifamily construction in 2023 would create 2,247 apartments, down almost 55% from 4,963 in 2022 — though 2022 was a record year for apartment projects.

Local single-family homes, meanwhile, sold for a median price of $450,000 in January, according to the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors; that’s down from the record high of $495,000 in June 2022, yet prices have remained above the $400,000 mark since February 2021.

Average apartment rents also set several record highs the past few years and surpassed $1,500 a month in the third quarter of 2022, according to an industry report. Rents have since dipped, but still averaged a pricey $1,456 a month in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Former Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler was named as the Pikes Peak Housing Network’s executive director. Gaebler assumed her post Nov. 1; her background includes eight years on the council and six years as development director of Greccio Housing, the nonprofit that works to provide affordable housing for low- to moderate-income families.

“While I’m pro housing, I’m not connected to the developers, I’m not connected to any of those who have something to gain,” Gaebler said of her role. “I’m just a pro-housing voice.”

The Gazette recently asked Gaebler to discuss the Housing Network’s goals and direction. The following questions and answers were edited for brevity and clarity:

What is the Pikes Peak Housing Network and how was it formed?

Pikes Peak Housing Network was established in 2023 by a group of community leaders who care deeply about Colorado Springs and its lack of affordable and attainable housing for our growing workforce and senior population. In the short time it’s been in operation, it has become a respected and valued entity that is working to increase the development of all housing types throughout our city and region.

To read the full article at the Gazette, visit here.

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