Article

Colorado Affordable Housing Legislation

By: Susan Wood, AICP, Legislative Committee Chair

It is an established fact that rents in Metro Denver are high (and increasing) and the cost of home ownership in the Metro area make it difficult, if not impossible, for many. While this trend is not fully universal across Colorado, the increase in housing cost has affected all, but a few of the most rural and remote communities.

In Denver, for example, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,673/month, which is a 3.95% increase from last year. Equally concerning, the median sales price for a single-family home in some of the most populated Colorado Front Range counties is inching beyond $450,000. These figures clearly demonstrate the disproportionate share of monthly income that must be allocated for housing and shed light on the difficulty of many to provide for their families. These statistics also explain why in the last few years, there have been 5 to 10 bills introduced in each legislative session to address affordable housing. These include extending the Low Income Housing Tax Credit; providing trust funds to assist low income buyers; consumer protections for renters; and more. Most of these were not successful.

The State of Colorado 2019 Legislative Session was no different in regard to the number of housing bills introduced. This session, 16 housing bills were introduced and seven of these were tracked by the APA CO Legislative Committee. There were a couple of exceptions in the type of bills introduced, which are discussed below and another major difference from previous years, is the success of many of the 2019 bills. A summary of the housing bills tracked by APA CO follows.

Bill No.

Subject

Summary

APA CO Position

Result

HB19-1075

Tax Credit Employer Assisted Housing Pilot Program

Pilot Program to promote employer-assisted housing in rural areas

Monitor

Failed

HB19-1228

Increase Tax Credit Allocation for Affordable Housing

Increase in the amount of tax credits the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority can allocate in one year

Support

Passed

HB19-1245

Affordable Housing Funding from Vendor Fee Changes

Increase affordable housing funding via modification of the state sales tax vendor fee

Support

Passed

HB19-1272

Housing Authority Property in New Energy Improvement District

Permit Housing Authority participation in the Colorado New Energy Improvement District Program

Support

Passed

HB19-1319

Incentives for Developers to Facilitate Affordable Housing

Provides incentives to assist land developers in providing affordable housing statewide

Support

Passed

HB19-1322

Expand Supply of Affordable Housing

Use money from certain state funds to expand the supply of affordable housing statewide

Support

Passed

SB19-225

Authorize Local Governments to Stabilize Rent

Provide Local Government the authority to stabilize rent on private residential property

Monitor

Lost

The real exceptions in this session’s Affordable Housing lineup were HB19-1245, which introduced a funding source for affordable housing that would be sufficient in amount to make a difference in the ability to create affordable housing; and SB19-225, which would have given local government the authority to impose a cap on rent increases that, in Colorado, were solely within the purview of the private property owner. Both bills were bold and controversial. HB19-1245 designates funding that was previously returned to business owners as a percentage rebate of collected sales tax, and therefore, not popular with the business community. In the end; however, this bill passed. SB19-225, which was not successful, would take the ability to establish the rental rates out of the hands of property owners. This proved to be too much of a leap for Colorado legislators and this bill failed.

In 2019, Affordable Housing was named the No. 1 planning issue in the State by APA CO members, which placed it at the top of our Legislative Agenda. It is encouraging to see the progress made in Affordable Housing in the 2019 Legislative Session and it will be interesting to track the results. 

References:

1. https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-denver-rent-trends/; “Rent trend data in Denver, Colorado;” accessed May 8, 2019.
2. https://www.coloradorealtors.com/market-trends/regional-and-statewide-st... “Housing Market Sortable Statistics – Single Family:” accessed May 8, 2019.

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