Jon Shipley moved from Texas to Summit County to earn an Associate Degree in Environmental Science at Colorado Mountain College.
Last fall, he signed a two-year lease for an apartment. Earlier this year her landlord sold the unit and now Shipley and her family have to move out by the end of August.
“Our landlord said he got an amazing offer,” said Shipley, who dropped out of school to work as the general manager of a sandwich shop as he looked for accommodation for his family. “I tried to fight to stay here and fight to go to school here and get my degree in environmental science. There is so much stress around housing right now.
Colorado Mountain College said on Tuesday it would spend $ 40 million to build 35 to 40 new housing units on each of its residential campuses, in Breckenridge, Edwards, Steamboat Springs and Roaring Fork Valley, to help students like Shipley to stay in class.
“We recognize that housing compromises college,” said Carrie Hauser, president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College’s 20,000 students. “So the college is investing and taking a big step forward in housing. “
Colorado housing crisis
More than two-thirds of the cost of a Colorado Mountain College degree is spent on housing in some of the country’s most expensive resort areas, Hauser said. The challenge of finding housing for students and employees is not new to the school, which several years ago provided a developer with acreage in exchange for 30 affordable units in Breckenridge.
Now Colorado Mountain College is extending this model to other lands it owns.
“We will not solve the housing crisis, but we are taking an apple bite and providing some relief,” Hauser said. “Our students are the workforce and the workforce is our students. “
The school is open to working with partners, but “will do it on our own,” Hauser said, noting that the school will fund the project and recruit developers. The 11-campus college is funded by a tax district spanning 12,000 square miles in the mountains of Colorado.
Colorado Mountain College has added value to its communities since 1967. Its educational programs and bachelor’s degrees have not only trained nurses, teachers, and ski resort operators, but the college has empowered residents to ” acquire skills without leaving their community. Colorado Mountain College’s dual mission – offering two and four year degrees – is “very much in tune with the local communities that fund us,” Hauser said.
“Our return on investment is to make sure that we are training students who can feed these local communities,” she said.
The hope is to build 50 to 60 rooms in each of the four campuses. The school, which was founded in Leadville and on the Spring Valley campus south of Glenwood Springs, has over 1,000 acres in western Colorado, most of it sourced from local municipalities or area ranchers. Traditionally, the school’s residential campuses have offered dormitory-style rooms.
This plan provides for affordable 12-month apartment leases, more for students taking classes and working in the community.
“If we can give people a way to stay and be a part of these communities, our mission is to try to help contribute to the health of these communities,” Hauser said.
Taylor Tennant has been involved with Colorado Mountain College’s Breckenridge Campus Nursing Program for three years, while working full time in the resort community. She lives in one of 30 units built by the college on the Summit County campus, where the school is expanding its nursing simulation lab to accommodate more students.
“This housing crisis is crazy,” said Tennant, who spent six months sleeping on friends’ couches before he could enter the student apartment. “I think what CMC is offering right now is great, especially with the 12 month lease.”
Tennant and Shipley said the few leases currently available rarely extend beyond six months. This means that the search for long-term accommodation doesn’t stop even the day you move into a new location.
“We are all victims of the fact that everyone wants to live in this beautiful pile of stones and that is the Colorado paradox,” Hauser said. “We have to invest and develop our own. This is the only way we are going to grow our own workers and it is the only way we can have a workforce that reflects our population.
Chris Romer, the head of the Vail Valley Partnership who sits on the Colorado Mountain College board of directors, said the school is not only tackling its own organizational challenges with new housing, but also community issues. He hopes more landowners, government entities and developers will follow suit.
“I hope this will inspire other special districts to similarly invest in housing for their employees. Almost all of CMC’s students are part of our workforce, so housing benefits not only the school, but the business community as well. It alleviates a small part of the housing crisis to open rentals to others.
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