Four Points Funding’s investments are anchored in “gateway” communities, smaller communities near notable destinations with healthy population growth. While recent studies indicate that these communities will face increasingly problematic infrastructure challenges, the growth in these areas has increased even more since the start of the pandemic. This is exacerbating issues with housing inventory and affordability that already existed. While this creates clear demand drivers for investment, supporting growth in these gateway communities must be accompanied with a sensitivity to preserving the small town culture which current and future residents treasure. Investing to support gateway communities experiencing rapid population growth requires intention, expertise, and focused capital.
Population Migration Trends to Gateway Communities
Population growth in gateway communities has emerged over the past decade. Populations in western Colorado, for example, were projected to rise more than +67% by 2050 (5). Now, in 2020 the number of people looking for homes in rural areas has increased +115% compared to 2019 (4). As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 60% of employees are now working remotely full or part time, enabling them to move further from metropolitan areas, and into lifestyle driven gateway communities (2). 14-23 million U.S. households are projected to move as a result of growing acceptance of remote work (3), triggering the largest migration of the US workforce since WWII.
Increasing Pressure on Housing Inventory and Affordability
The trends are putting pressure on already undersupplied housing in these markets - especially housing that is affordable for those earning the median income. In a recent study from the Journal of the American Planning Association 82.7% of gateway communities said that housing affordability is moderately to extremely problematic for their community (1). Colorado is closing out the decade with record lows in housing inventory (6), while prices continue to rise. Gateway communities need to act fast to provide attainable workforce housing to sustain population growth. Four Points Funding sees a rising need for “missing middle housing” to cater to persons such as nurses, teachers, and other professionals that are not generally served by low income housing or luxury developments.
Supporting Growth While Preserving Small-Town Authenticity
The solution for supporting growth in gateway communities is far more nuanced than rapidly developing blocks of multifamily housing units. “The growth most gateway communities are experiencing juxtaposes against the fact that these places tend to value and identify with their ‘small town-ness’ and related community character. When survey respondents were asked what characteristics their community cares about, 93.8% of respondents said they think a small-town feel is important for more than half or all of their community (1).”
Why Four Points Funding is Uniquely Positioned to Help
The team and mission at Four Points Funding is uniquely positioned to help communities support their growing populations without sacrificing their small town authenticity. As residents of gateway towns and having invested across the communities for years, we understand the importance of creating and investing in projects with community input and support. We also understand the importance of planning regionally and in synch with community stakeholders.
(1) Journal of the American Planning Association: Planning and Development Challenges in Western Gateway Communities
(2) Fast Company: Zoom Towns are Exploding in the West
(5) Denver Post: Colorado Population Growth
(6) Colorado Realtors: Decade Closes with Record Low Inventory Across Colorado