Underhoused project seeks to define local "housing health"

Local journalist Shay Castle – a participant in the Community Foundation's TRENDS Reporting Fellowship program, in partnership with KGNU Community Radio and Home Wanted – is tackling Boulder County homelessness head-on.

Specifically, she's collecting stories from you and your neighbors about the challenges, opportunities, and shortcomings of the available homes in our community. By gathering stories of the “underhoused,” Shay hopes to present a more accurate picture of housing health in Boulder County.
"The idea for this project originated when I was working for a local nonprofit," says Shay, creator of Boulder Beat.  “One of their board members made a comment about renters having a choice of where to live.
"As someone on the lower end of the economic spectrum, I know just how few choices you can have when you're trying to rent in a town as expensive as Boulder. That got me curious about what tradeoffs folks are making to try and live in Boulder County.
"Where do they have choice? Where do they not? What would this community look like if people actually got to live the way they wanted to – in the types of homes they wanted, with the people they chose, with costs they could actually afford?"
According to Boulder Beat, employment isn’t just measured by employed or unemployed. There’s also a measurement for the underemployed – that is, someone who is employed but working fewer hours than they would like and/or need to.
Housing access can be viewed similarly. There are many challenges that could qualify someone as underhoused, including:
·      Paying more than 30% of your income toward housing costs
·      A too-long commute
·      Substandard health and safety because of an old building, mold, or pests
·      Living with too many people or unable to live with your community
·      Lack of access to the outdoors, culturally relevant businesses, or family members
·      Physical accessibility barriers
What would it mean to you not only to have an affordable home, but one that also meets the needs of your family and aligns with your values? Please consider sharing your story.