NPR, October 10, 2023, The Forest Service Is Trying To Build Affordable Housing To Keep Staff In Colorado
The U.S. Forest Service is in charge of millions of acres in Colorado’s mountains, but their workers can hardly afford to live there. Now, the service is trying to build more affordable staff housing.
The Forest Service is about to sign a lease that will transform this hilltop property. It’s a collaboration between the federal agency, local governments and a private developer. It’ll add nearly 200 affordable housing units to the site.
Local governments want to support the Forest Service workforce, which is vital to rural and resort economies, and meet the community’s wider housing needs, too. In 2018, Congress agreed to let the agency try this model. The town of Dillon will be the first place that actually happens. Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams stresses these projects cannot happen in the places where you might imagine hunting, skiing, fishing or even logging. It’s only allowed at a handful of spots in Fitzwilliams’ White River National Forest that the agency has already set aside for stuff like offices and maintenance sheds.
It’ll be the first development in the nation that leases U.S. Forest Service land for affordable housing development.