Colorado’s Affordable Housing Crisis
By Meghan Dollar, CML legislative & policy advocate, and Sam Mamet, CML executive director
For the past five years Colorado has steadily grown in population. Many individuals move themselves or their families to our beautiful state for the weather and outdoor amenities. Who can blame them when Colorado is filled with so many terrific communities? As a result of this population increase, quality affordable housing is becoming harder and harder to find.
According to the most recent vacancy and rent survey found through the Division of Housing, the average rent in Colorado is nearly $1,300 per month. That is substantial when compared to the average rent in 2011, which was under $800. The average vacancy rate in Colorado is currently 5 percent, which leaves little on the market when it comes to affordability.
While some may attribute the lack of affordable housing as just a metro area issue, it is clear that housing is an issue statewide. Resort towns have long worked for more workforce housing in their communities, and rural areas face similar issues when they lack viable housing stock.
CML has long worked at the state level to ensure the budget line item for affordable housing projects within the Division of Housing remains funded. Currently, in the governor’s proposed budget, the state has allocated $2 million to that line item. That will account for roughly 250 new affordable housing units in Colorado in 2017-2018.
To create even more units, Colorado has reinvested in the state low-income housing tax credit. This program is operated through the Colorado Housing & Finance Authority (CHFA) and has, between 2014 and 2016, contributed to the development of nearly 2,000 units.
We know this is a top priority for many of our members, so CML is hosting an affordable housing summit on Wednesday, Nov. 9. The all-day seminar will give municipal elected officials an overview of the affordable housing issue and opportunities to fund new affordable housing with speakers from the federal and state level, as well as from communities that have devised their own programs to pursue funding. We look forward to utilizing this opportunity to engage with municipal official on this extremely important topic.
As we all know, housing is key to a thriving community. We know that municipal leaders across the state are very committed to this issue. We would love to hear from you on how you are addressing affordable housing.