The Colorado Department of Transportation and the Town of Frisco recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Granite Park Employee Housing Site; a new housing development earmarked for Colorado DOT and county employees as part an effort to alleviate acute workforce housing challenges.
[Above image via Colorado DOT]
The future development will include 22 units that will be reserved exclusively for qualifying Summit County and Colorado DOT maintenance workers – the result of an effort begun in August 2020 to develop an employee housing project on the lot owned by the agency in the Town of Frisco.
The agreement lays the foundation to jointly undertake all necessary actions to design and develop workforce housing units by requiring Colorado DOT and the Town to share all costs 50/50 – excluding each agency’s staffing and personnel costs – as a way to improve workforce recruiting and retention efforts.
“Being able to recruit and retain employees in high-cost-of-living areas has been a challenge,” explained Shoshana Lew, Colorado DOT’s executive director, in a statement. “We knew we needed to think outside the box and collaborate with our community partners to identify ways we can collectively provide affordable workforce housing as this is an issue that expands across industries. We are thrilled to be celebrating alongside our partners at the Town of Frisco and show the power of collaboration that works to do what is in the best interest of our communities.”
In 2022, the Town of Frisco and Colorado DOT were joined in this unique partnership by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs or DOLA, which awarded $1.5 million to the Town of Frisco to help bring Granite Park to reality through their Innovative Housing Opportunities Incentive grants.
The DOLA, through the Division of Local Government, awarded more than $18 million in funding across 13 counties in Colorado through this program. Those 14 Innovative Housing Opportunities Incentive or IHOI grants will provide 1,872 additional housing units, providing housing for approximately 4,867 people across Colorado.
“This housing effort is a matter of necessity and builds on other efforts to draw in and keep our professional highway maintainers,” emphasized John Lorme, director of maintenance and operations for Colorado DOT.
“[We have] also increased our housing stipends that can boost pay by more than 60 percent in areas with unsustainable costs of living,” he added. “We are taking a strong stance in finding innovative solutions that will directly benefit our Colorado DOT family, which will also have a direct benefit to the traveling public by having more maintainers on our roadways and hiring within local communities rather than have folks commute in from surrounding areas. It is important that our maintainers live and work in the same areas. They are part of the community they serve.”
The Granite Park Employee Housing site is one of two projects that is breaking ground in 2023 as part of Colorado DOT’s initiative to recruit and retain maintainers, particularly within mountain communities. The next development, which begins construction in the summer of 2023, will be built in Fairplay and will house both Colorado DOT maintainers and Colorado State Patrol employees.