Summit County population grows 11%, 2020 census data shows
The latest data released by the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed what most Summit County residents already know: the community is growing, and so is its Hispanic population, but its housing stock continues to lag, causing problems with the local workforce.
The data was released so that the Independent Redistricting Commission of Colorado could continue the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative maps. His results for Summit County show the gap between the number of people residing in the community and the housing units available.
The county’s overall population count was 31,055, a nearly 11% jump from its 2010 tally of 27,994. Only 1,500 homes were added to the market in the same time frame, an increase of 5%.
Brianne Snow, executive director of the Family and Cross-Cultural Resource Center, said she’s seen this unbalanced growth firsthand.
“I will say that we are seeing more overcrowded housing – unsafe housing – than we have had in years and years, (like) families living in the living room of (some houses) because they cannot afford rent, (or) two families of five living in a two-bedroom condo,” Snow said. “These situations that we see more than ever before.”
Snow said she doesn’t believe some data is completely accurate, such as the number of vacant homes in the county. According to the data, the county has a total of 31,342 homes, of which almost 59% are vacant. That’s relatively the same as 2010 data, which showed about 61% of the county’s housing stock was vacant.
“I think we’ve filled a lot of these houses with people,” Snow said. “I don’t think the vacancy rate is actually as high as the census is reporting…because it happened during COVID. I don’t think it actually changes the dynamic at all. There’s a lot more people living here, so there’s less inventory, there’s less empty houses, but again, it’s those people who have moved here that don’t necessarily contribute to the labor force. ‘work.
Snow’s point is that most people were filling out the census in the early and early stages of the pandemic, which is when many people moved into the county. Snow believes many new-to-county remote workers are now living in these previously vacant units, eliminating that inventory from the pool for local labor that could have been turned into restricted-deed homes.
Snow said there was also a high number of vacant homes because there were a large number of second home owners who only used those properties for maybe a few weeks throughout the year.
Housing stock and overall population aren’t the only data that tells a story. The 2020 data also shows that the county’s Hispanic population has grown nearly 34% since 2010. Again, Snow said she doesn’t think that number is representative of new community members moving into the county. Summit County, but rather made up for the low numbers in 2010.
“I have the opinion that I don’t think the 2010 census data was actually very accurate,” Snow said. “I think there were a lot of uncounted individuals and families simply because they didn’t necessarily have culturally competent ways to engage people in the count. I think in 2020, despite COVID, they did a much better job. Several Summit County organizations and entities assisted. … We were really able to let people know he was sure to be counted.
One of the people who helped lead this charge was Andrea Ridder. Ridder — who is now the spokesperson for the Summit School District — was previously the marketing and events coordinator for the resource center and helped engage the local Hispanic community in carrying out the census. Ridder said there was some mistrust from the local Hispanic community about filling out the census, as well as simple communication barriers that needed to be addressed.
“I think we need to do a better job of communicating in a culturally relevant way. … We have a lack of communication and I think that’s the other element. We need to meet people where they are and we need to do a better job of that.
Some of the efforts to engage both populations of the community included handing out flyers at its food bank, social media posts, and radio advertisements.
The census is an important tool because it helps the government decide how to distribute funds and services, as well as how much representation each state should get. For example, Colorado gets a new congressional district due to the latest counts.
As for how much funding this could mean for the county, neither U.S. Census Bureau officials nor Summit County returned a request for comment in time for publication.