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Affordable Housing Fee

New Development Fee in 2017 Helps Support a Permanent Fund for Affordable Housing

On September 21, 2016, Mayor Michael B. Hancock signed Council Bill 16-0625 into city law. The bill creates a dedicated affordable housing fund to help create or preserve 6,000 affordable homes for low- to moderate-income families in Denver. The bill is funded in part by a linkage fee on commercial and residential development starting January 1, 2017.

Prior to this, Denver has not charged development impact fees, except in the Gateway area.

Use the drop-down menus below to learn more.

Picture of a high-rise building under constructionEvery project logging in for a building permit must submit this application (PDF) to document the information required for compliance with Denver’s affordable housing fee.

The affordable housing fee is assessed based on new gross floor area only (not including parking) and must be paid before receiving a building permit for the following:

  • Any new square footage, except additions of 400 gross square feet or less to existing single-family or duplex buildings, and
  • Converting a space where the fee did not apply into a space where the fee would apply. For example, the square footage of a garage is exempt from the fee since parking is not included in the calculation of “gross floor area.” However, if the garage is converted into living space, for example, it is considered an addition to the gross floor area of the structure, and the fee would apply (unless the addition of new space is 400 square feet or less to an existing single-family or duplex building).

The fee does not apply to zoning or trade-specific permits (mechanical, electrical, etc.). 

If your project is in an existing building and is not adding any new square footage, or if you already know your project will qualify for one of the allowed exceptions from the fee, you must still submit the affordable housing fee application at log-in before receiving a fee waiver. The application is not needed for projects eligible for a same-day, walk-through review.

The affordable housing fee applies to projects logged in for building or Site Development Plan (SDP) review on or after January 1, 2017.

It is due in full at the time the building permit(s) is issued. It will be assessed alongside standard permit fees, and building permits will not be issued if this fee is not paid.

Projects logged in for building or SDP review before December 30, 2016, will not be assessed the fee. Please note that a single-family or duplex "zoning-only" review logged in before December 30, 2016, does not exempt a project from the fee if the building review is logged in on or after January 1.


For mixed-use buildings, the affordable housing fees listed below are based upon the new floor area in the structure attributable to each proposed use.

Project Type Fee, per square foot
Multi-unit dwellings designed and regulated under the International Building Code $1.50
Single-unit, two-unit or multi-unit dwellings designed and regulated under the
International Residential Code, or any primary residential use other than multi-unit
dwellings regulated under the International Building Code
$0.60
Commercial sales, services and repair $1.70
Civic, public or institutional $1.70
Industrial, manufacturing and wholesale $0.40
Agricultural $0.40

Beginning on July 1, 2018, and each July 1 annually thereafter, linkage fees will be adjusted for inflation in an amount equal to the percentage change from the previous year in the national Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). Fee changes will be published in the building permit fee policy (ADMIN 138) found at denvergov.org/buildingcode under "Building Code Policies."

Commercial or multifamily projects undergoing a Site Development Plan (SDP) review must have had the concept SDP logged in and must have received a project number on or before Friday, December 30, 2016, in order to avoid the fee.

If an SDP has major changes requiring a resubmittal after January 1, 2017, it will be considered a new project and be assessed appropriate affordable housing fees. 

A resubmittal of a Concept or Formal SDP Phase submittal (whose initial Concept submittal occurred on or prior to December 30, 2016) received after January 1, shall be deemed by the Development Review Committee (DRC) a new project, be assigned a new Concept record number, and be assessed appropriate affordable housing fees if any of the conditions below exist:

  • Any Concept record number that has not submitted a revised Concept Phase submittal or Formal SDP submittal within 180 days of receipt of comments for a Concept Phase or Formal SDP review;
  • Any project (Concept or Formal SDP) that was previously withdrawn;
  • Change in the project/site area or location of the project on the zone lot;
  • Change in zoning use classification (e.g., office to a residential use);
  • Any addition of stories (reduction of stories does not trigger new concept); or
  • Any addition of buildings when multiple buildings are proposed on a single zone lot.

Additionally, any resubmittal of a Concept or Formal SDP Phase may be deemed by the DRC a new project, be assigned a new Concept record number, and be assessed appropriate affordable housing fees if any of the conditions below exist that result in new impacts:

  • Re-allocation of proposed uses;
  • Change in the building form (e.g., apartment form to general form);
  • A reduction in the number, relocation, or change in phases of buildings when multiple buildings are proposed on a single zone lot;
  • Any site rezoned following submittal (unless original Concept submittal anticipated rezoning); or
  • Any other changes/modifications proposed that result in new impacts from the proposal (transportation, wastewater, additional buildings on a single zone lot, etc.).

A printable PDF of the above policy is located here for reference.

This table lists each exception allowed under the ordinance as well as what supporting materials are required to verify an individual exception. Any additional information listed in the table below must be received and verified by CPD prior to building permit issuance in order for the fee to be reduced or waived.

As an alternative to the linkage fee, an applicant for a building permit has the option of including affordable housing units either on, or within a quarter-mile radius of, the subject property, according to a set formula. To elect the build alternative or for details on its requirements, please contact the Office of Economic Development.

  Exception Information Needed
A Submitted a concept site development plan prior to 12/30/2016 Date submitted; Concept record number
B Project is part of a property subject to an affordable housing plan or other preexisting contractual commitment or covenant to construct affordable housing Submit the project name and plan recordation number and a copy of the recorded affordable housing plan, contractual commitment or covenant
C Project has an affordable housing obligation from zoning Provide zoning ordinance number that contains this obligation
D Project entails residential dwelling units being built by a charitable, religious or other non-profit entity that are deed-restricted to ensure affordability Submit a copy of the covenant, land use restriction agreement or instrument of affordability, and evidence of 501(c)(3) status.
E This is an affordable housing project constructed with the support of federal, state or local financial resources. Submit evidence of the federal, state or local financial resources and a copy of one of the following: (a) covenant or land use restriction agreement, (b) instrument of affordability, (c) HUD contract or similar, or (d) evidence that the project is being developed by the Denver Housing Authority.
F This is a non-residential project by a charitable, religious or other non-profit to be used primarily to provide housing, shelter, housing assistance or related services to low-income households or persons experiencing homelessness. Submit evidence of 501(c)(3) status, the organization’s mission statement, and a description of the project.
G This is construction by or on behalf of the federal, state or local government, or any department or agency thereof, that will be used solely for a governmental or educational purpose. Submit a description of how the project will be used for a governmental or educational purpose and proof of property ownership via a deed or lease that documents ownership and/or use.
H This is a reconstruction of a structure that was destroyed due to a natural or manmade involuntary disaster. Submit an insurance report, report from Denver Police, report from Denver Fire or similar.
I This is an addition of 400 square feet or less to an existing single-family or duplex structure. Plans submitted for building and zoning review must clearly outline the addition with square footage information and dimensions to verify the addition meets this requirement as well as provide evidence that the existing structure is only a single-unit or two-unit dwelling.
J This project is for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). Plans submitted for building and zoning review must clearly indicate the structure is an ADU, and submit evidence of the status of the primary structure to ensure what is being built is not an additional primary structure on the lot.
K This project is meeting the “build alternative,” per the Affordable Housing Linkage Fee Ordinance 2016-0625. Submit a copy of the agreement/affordable housing plan from the Office of Economic Development (OED) to prove the build alternative is being met.
L OED has granted a waiver or fee reduction for a non-residential project due to proof of lack of employment impact. Submit the approved waiver from OED indicating that the project is subject to either a reduced or waived fee. Be advised that, if the fee is reduced, the reduced fee will still be due at the time of building permit issuance.
M This submittal is for modified drawings for a project under construction that does not increase square footage. Original log number

Denver's housing costs, both for-rent and for-sale, have risen dramatically since 2010. Even with robust construction, Denver's supply of housing is unable to keep pace with demand. The community asked the city to address the struggle for the estimated 87,000 households who are cost-burdened (paying more than one-third of their monthly income on housing) by establishing a dedicated fund.

The new housing fund will be used to create and preserve housing for households across a wide income spectrum. The fund will support permanent housing and supportive services for at-risk residents, low- and moderate-income workforce rental housing, and moderate-income for-sale housing. 

Visit denvergov.org/housing for more information.

 
Application Form and Guides

Every building permit applicant MUST submit an affordable housing fee application at log-in, including projects in existing buildings with no new floor area or that only need shoring/excavation or foundation-only permits. This application is not needed for projects eligible for a walk-through review, unless you are converting a parking area (e.g., a garage) into habitable space.

Administrative Rules & Regs

Denver’s Office of Economic Development and Department of Community Planning and Development held a joint public hearing on January 26, 2016, to discuss rules and regulations for the administration of the Dedicated Funding for Affordable Housing as adopted in Chapter 27 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code. The Dedicated Fund Ordinance was adopted by Denver’s City Council in September 2016 to support city affordable housing programs, adopting an affordable housing linkage fee applicable to new construction, and dedicating a portion of the city’s existing property tax revenue capacity to the funding of affordable housing programs. 

Learn More

Visit denvergov.org/housing for more information about Denver's dedicated affordable housing fund.