Meeting Colorado’s Housing Needs
In 2019, the Colorado legislature created several good policies that will protect renters’ rights and make housing more affordable and accessible to more Coloradans. I am committed to defending the work we’ve accomplished, but we can still do more to connect Coloradans with housing.
As a lawmaker, I will focus on these four areas: encouraging wage growth, protecting renters from predatory leasing practices, expanding and diversifying available housing, and opening up opportunities for small housing providers.
Since the housing crash ended, home values in more than 75 percent of American metropolitan areas climbed faster than incomes and the Denver area is the most expensive non-coastal area in the country. Throughout Colorado, teachers, law enforcement, and first responders can’t afford to live in the communities where they’re needed most. Businesses are facing staffing shortages and in some cases, have been forced to close.
Close to half of Coloradans rent their homes, and one out of every four Colorado renters are cost-burdened, spending more than 50% of their income on housing, according to Housing Colorado.
At minimum wage, it takes a Denver metro area worker 74 hours a week to afford a typical one-bedroom rental at fair-market rent.
Federal funding for housing has not kept up with construction costs or population growth: the two largest federal housing grants are the Community Development Block Grant program and HOME, but since 2000 their funding has fallen by 57% and 64%, respectively.
Encouraging wage growth
American workers have never been more productive, but wages have not kept up with rising costs of living.
American workers have never been more productive, but wages have not kept up with rising costs of living. When wages do not rise to match the cost of living, Coloradans can’t afford to live where their labor is needed and business owners who can’t staff their businesses are forced to cut back or close. In the legislature, I will support measures to increase wages to match productivity and the cost of living. Because a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work in every part of our state, I support an approach that’s responsive to the diverse needs of rural and urban communities of all sizes.
Combating housing discrimination
I will protect Coloradans from discrimination and support efforts to help Coloradans recognize and report housing discrimination.
Housing discrimination continues to be a problem in Colorado and throughout the nation. Although laws that prohibit housing discrimination exist, these laws are not well enforced in our state. I support policies that will combat housing discrimination, including efforts to help Coloradans recognize and report housing discrimination.
Protecting Coloradans who rent
I support legislation to protect renters’ rights.
Predatory and abusive leasing practices continue to be a problem in Colorado. I support legislation to protect renters’ rights such as prohibiting predatory towing in rental housing areas, ending the practice of collecting unethical fees such as excessive application fees and non-refundable damage deposits, and defending renters’ rights to prompt repair or abatement in the case of health and safety hazards in housing.
Supporting small housing providers
I will work to level the playing field and create opportunities for small housing providers.
“Mom and pop” housing providers are our family, friends, and neighbors. Students, temporary workers, job seekers, and home buyers need an affordable place to stay while looking for more permanent housing, and small housing providers, often older adults who have extra room to rent after their children are grown, offer an ideal win-win solution. I will work to level the playing field and create opportunities for small housing providers.
Building in rural Colorado
Incentive programs that make it more attractive and affordable for contractors to build in rural areas could help Colorado’s rural communities meet their housing needs.
One in four rural renters spends more than half of their income on housing and the lack of housing in many parts of rural Colorado impacts communities that need to attract labor and talent. Housing challenges in rural Colorado are different than those in more populated areas, so it’ll take a different approach to solve them. Incentive programs that make it more attractive and affordable for contractors to build in rural areas have shown success in Nebraska and Kentucky, and I believe Colorado should explore similar programs to help rural communities meet their housing needs.
Expanding housing options
Accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs, are an ideal solution for many housing challenges. I will support efforts to make it easier for homeowners to install certain kinds of accessory housing on their property.