From 2010 through 2018, Colorado’s population increased by over 666,000 people, according to the U.S. Census. To put this in perspective, Denver’s population is just 619,000 people, so our population growth is like adding a new major city to the region. Naturally, with such a large influx of people, Colorado is experiencing a housing shortage, causing the cost of renting to increase.
There is no single solution or quick fix for this shortage and the result is high renting costs, but there are a collection of policy solutions that together will reduce the cost of housing and improve the diversity of residential housing options.
Here are some ideas on policy solutions to alleviate Colorado’s housing crisis:
- Property tax abatements, which create a formula for encouraging developers to voluntarily build affordable housing by providing property tax reduction on the value of improvements (i.e., pay property taxes on land value only) for multiple years in exchange for lower rents over a 25- to 35-year period.
- State, counties and cities could fund more affordable housing vouchers to create a greater supply of vouchers.
- Increasing the income tax credits for low income housing tax credit projects, would expand the effective and successful program currently in place.
- The State of Colorado could adopt the same legislation that the City of Denver and other Front Range cities have adopted to increase condominium construction. This would modify current construction liability laws to provide the right of the developer and contractor to repair issues before lawsuits are filed.
- Contributing land to developers in exchange for long-term restrictions on rents or sales price is another solution to make building apartments economically feasible.
- Reducing building permit fees or tap fees in exchange for long term restrictions on rents or sales prices would also make building apartments more affordable.
- Encourage zoning by local governments to expand future manufactured housing communities to create more rental opportunities.
- Privatize the LIVE program and provide public financial support for matching employer contributions for rent buydowns.
- Local zoning authorities could allow co-living and single room occupancy zoning to promote more efficient use of the built environment.
- Increase height or density for residential projects near transit stops to allow for more housing near transportation.
- Mandate reduced or no water tap fees for affordable housing developments to reduce the cost of living.
- Encourage greater density in zoning and encourage accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or paired home entitlements to result in more rental housing.
- Reduce parking requirements for all types of housing which will reduce the costs to construct.
- Reduce administrative burdens of accepting housing vouchers so that more housing providers can afford to accept them.
- Provide funds or grants to new affordable developments for mixed income communities to create more living options.
- Expedite the entitlement and building permit process for the construction of affordable condominiums and apartments to allow quicker construction progress.
- Expand tax-exempt bond financing for more affordable housing.
Colorado’s rental housing industry stands ready to partner within Colorado’s communities to continue supporting SHAPE (support housing affordability, progress, and equality) housing policies to ensure Coloradans have access to housing that best meets their needs.