Apr 27, 2022 - News

An affordable housing mandate in Denver could be on the horizon

Illustration of a house with a padlock shackle on the roof in an open position.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Denver's elected officials are moving forward with a proposed mandate aimed at increasing the city's stock of affordable rental and for-sale homes.

Why it matters: Denver is considered among the most expensive metro areas in the U.S., with an average home sale price recently hitting a record $705,812.

Driving the news: A Denver City Council committee on Tuesday advanced Mayor Michael Hancock's plan to require all new residential buildings with 10 or more units to include between 8-15% income-restricted dwellings.

  • The pricier the area (think Cherry Creek and Union Station), the more affordable units there would need to be.
  • If developers don't comply with the new regulations, they would face significant fees.

State of play: Council members are proposing several amendments to the policy before they give the green light.

  • Changes on the table include expanding the areas in which housing developers can build affordable units without including on-site parking.
  • Another amendment would ensure that grandfathered projects pay the steeper linkage fees — government-issued dues for real estate developers to fund affordable housing needs — that kick off July 1.

The other side: As is, Denver's understaffed planning department is approving housing projects on time in just 1% of instances, Denverite reports.

  • And a rush of new development plans could create even more of a backlog, builders say.
  • Meanwhile, some developers doubt the plan will achieve its intended purpose and deter projects entirely due to the city's rules and regulations.

What's next: Council members are expected to vote on the final proposal over the next several weeks.

  • A public hearing will be held before the final vote.
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