Apr 18, 2023 - News

New report offers solutions to Colorado's housing woes

Illustration of a homeless person sitting in front of a white picket fence

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Colorado will overcome its housing crisis by focusing on building homes for its lowest-income residents.

Driving the news: That's the conclusion drawn by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, which issued a report this month making recommendations to address the state's housing crisis.

  • It's a crisis the report says is leading to "skyrocketing" rates of first-time homelessness.
  • The report outlines what kind of affordable housing should be prioritized.

Zoom in: The coalition says a mixture of public policy and investments targeting the poorest households will help improve the state's crisis.

  • It includes building housing for people living on fixed incomes and those who historically faced barriers to homeownership due to exclusionary housing policies.
  • The coalition also suggests prioritizing building housing with units available for people with different incomes, like complexes with income-restricted units.

What they're saying: "If we don't house individuals at those lowest incomes, then we're really destroying community, because we're forcing people out or we're making it impossible for them to live," Cathy Alderman, coalition spokesperson and public policy officer, tells us.

Between the lines: Denver mayoral candidates Kelly Brough and Mike Johnston each said in statements to Axios that they largely agreed with CCH's recommendations.

  • Brough called the report "correct" in dedicating resources and strategies to help the lowest-income households, and said as mayor she wants to make the city an active partner in developing affordable housing.
  • Johnston said the report "affirms" his plans to build 25,000 permanently affordable housing units in new mixed-income developments, and by converting existing market-rate units.

The intrigue: State lawmakers are considering a bill backed by Gov. Jared Polis that would grant the state more authority over how land is used.

  • It's intended to create more housing by allowing developers to build more places like townhomes and apartment complexes in areas where they're not currently allowed.
  • Alderman said the coalition "sees value" in the bill, adding the agency is working closely with the bill sponsor and the governor's office to include affordability requirements in the bill.
  • "[The coalition wants] to ensure that upzoning or density don't create harm in these communities today by creating more displacement and gentrification," Alderman said.

Of note: Alderman added that the agency was finishing its report when the bill was introduced.

The other side: Mayor Michael Hancock and City Council President Jamie Torres oppose the bill.

  • Hancock and Torres in a joint statement last week called the bill, "a laudable, but fundamentally flawed, top-down approach."

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