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Affordable Housing Taskforce sets a standard for Wyoming

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - As Cheyenne grapples with a large housing shortage, the Affordable Housing Task Force is gathering information on ways to make the job easier, but they still face many challenges.

Directed by the Mayor of Cheyenne and led by Brenda Birkle, Executive Director of My Front Door, the task force will function as a litmus test for the program by creating strategies potentially applicable in other counties within Wyoming.

The fundamental premise of affordable housing is to create something 30 percent or lower of the area’s median income, which can vary greatly.

According to the Bureau of Economic analysis in 2019, the average median income in Laramie county is $54,113, making Laramie county’s monthly rate $1,350 for housing.

Yet, a single person making minimum wage at $7.25 earns $1160 monthly.

Rentals in 2019, according to the Wyoming Economic Division’s cost of living index, was $846, which jumping to $907 in 2020 for 2 bedrooms in Laramie County.

“What affordable housing in this instance means is wage-supported housing. When many community leaders also developed some great initiatives for our community, economic developers, new businesses coming in, and seeing an increase in workforce, it creates a stumbling block when we then don’t have a place for those individuals to rest their heads, at night,” said Birkle.

Mayor Collins and the task force are committed to finding solutions for immediate strategies to create movement and municipal resolutions to current housing policies.

Knowing what type of properties are needed and what mix of housing units will grow with Wyoming to create affordable housing well into 2030.

“Maslow had it right, and one of the largest determinants of health was having safe, adequate affordable housing. Certainly if you are looking to grow the GDP and you are wanting a return on investment, real estate for your workforce is one of the smartest you can make,” said Birkle.

The task force is meeting on Monday at the LCCC and meetings will be ongoing.

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