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Whovians gather at Florissant Public Library page 6A

Pikes Peak Bill on graduation & growing up page4A

25 years of saving dogs in Teller County Page 8A

Courier Pikes Peak

VO LUME 55 | ISSUE 20 |


May 18, 2016

Teller County, Colorado

Affordable housing crisis in Woodland Park Committee focuses on Home Depot volunteers amass to address problem growing ‘housing hole’ Key demographic group squeezed out By Norma Engelberg To fill the deficit in affordable housing, Teller County needs 945 affordable housing units immediately and almost 500 new affordable homes and rental units each year through 2025, according to a new study. In addition, the 10-member Affordable Housing Needs Assessment steering group, composed of officials and private citizens from the county and all three of its municipalities, found that 29 percent of county households (2,922) are “costburdened” and almost 20 percent (1,987) are “severely cost-burdened.” When a household spends more than 30 percent of its income on housing, it is considered “cost-burdened.” If the household spends more than 50 percent of its income on housing, it’s considered to be “severely cost-burdened. The committee’s findings are based on information from previous housing studies, statistics collected by the Colorado State Demographer, the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Housing and Urban Development

and other state and federal agencies. The steering committee, led by Woodland Park Councilman John Schafer, concluded Teller County is in an affordable housing hole that is getting deeper every year and the affordability gap is widening. Steering group member Geoff Watson, a Woodland Park Planning Commissioner and the director of core services for Help the Needy, said cost-burdened families often pay their mortgages and rents with their wages and then use charitable organizations to help with food, medicines and other needs. “We see that all the time at Help the Needy,” he said. “A lot of these families are one paycheck from the edge. We help about 200 families a year meet a rent or mortgage payment, repair an appliance or automobile or other needs.” This ongoing housing shortage, along with other factors such as a lack of higherpaid, non-service employment, has also meant that the county is almost missing an entire key demographic – the age 20-30 group. These are the young families that fill local schools and entry-level jobs in schools and in police, fire and ambulance departments. The study also shows that there is nothing available in the county to help older people “age-in-place.” Senior hous-

Team Depot built framing for the interior walls of the former motel while completely transforming the outside. /Photo by Pat Hill for The Courier By Pat Hill More than 200 vendors, plumbers, employees and contractors from the Home Depot Foundation swarmed the old Lofthouse Motel to accelerate its transformation from a rundown, vacant flophouse into affordable housing. Dressed in orange shirts, the brigade spent four hours on May 11 building 100 frames for the interior walls, installing retaining walls around the perimeter and sprucing up the landscaping with trees and sod. The volunteers pulled out drywall, removed siding, windows and doors.

See “Housing” on page 3A

See “Volunteer” on page 3A

Hoping to ‘someday live a normal life’ WP senior vows condition won’t stop him from graduating By Danny Summers On May 20, when Woodland Park High School holds its graduation ceremony, senior Tyler Bates intends to be there and celebrate with his classmates. And he’ll undoubtedly receive his diploma with a smile despite enduring pain and personal tragedy that might sideline others. “I’m going to walk, no matter what,” Bates said. “Noth-



Tyler Bates was the starting shortstop for the Woodland Park baseball team the last two seasons. He will graduate on May 20. He has been suffering with rheumatoid arthritis and periodic fever syndrome for nine months. /Photo courtesy of Laurie Zander

ing is going to stop me.” Donning a cap and gown and joining the procession will be quite an accomplishment for a young man who was nearly killed April 25, 2015, while pursuing his dream of playing baseball. Then, a freak injury changed everything. While playing shortstop for the Panthers in a game at Widefield, Bates was struck by lightning and knocked to the ground. His teammates said they could smell smoke coming from his body as they carried him off the field. Bates recalls the moment vividly. “The lightning traveled through my feet and I felt the

See “Lightning” on page 3B Wed 18

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P.M. Storms

Fri 20

66 43 Mostly Sunny

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69 41 Partly Cloudy

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Mostly Sunny

Mostly Sunny

May 18, 2016 Courier  
May 18, 2016 Courier