Denver is experiencing a strong economic recovery from the recent recession, including a building boom and status among the nation’s top destinations for new residents, attracting around 2,600 households a year. But increased demand has pushed housing costs to among the top ten most expensive in the country, while wages have stagnated. The result is a threat to the very diversity that makes this city so appealing. Median home prices are out of reach for many young and middle income families, preventing or delaying homeownership. For seniors on fixed incomes and working families in the service sector, a recent trend toward luxury apartments and the influx of new residents have raised rents, making affordable rental housing nearly impossible to find and keep. First-time homelessness for families and individuals is also on the rise.
Our Current Housing Priorities:
- A new source of sustainable funding to build and preserve more affordable homes. For many years, Denver has relied only on federal dollars and creative financing to build and preserve critical housing for our low-wage workers, seniors, and the homeless. That has changed with recent one-time investments from the city’s general fund that have been leveraged to create a revolving loan fund. The focus now is to identify a renewable and dedicated source of funding that can be set aside exclusively for affordable housing, modeled on best practices from most other major cities, to dramatically increase the number of homes we can build or preserve over the course of 10-15 years.
- Support the development of permanent, transitional, and shelter housing, with supportive services, for our most vulnerable residents. In Denver alone, it is estimated that more than 3,000 individuals do not have a reliable place to call home, with more than 400 living on our streets. A portion of any new dedicated source of funding should be used to house individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
- Ensure that large-scale development projects seeking public subsidies include an affordable housing component. Tax increment financing, a public financing tool to help address blight and spur redevelopment, can help to fill a funding gap and make new projects possible. When receiving city investments, redevelopment projects must include mixed income and affordable housing for working families and/or seniors.
- Support regional approaches to mixed income housing and services. While some solutions may be localized, the need for housing and homeless services does not stop at city boundaries. Investment in land and housing development near current or planned transit stations will help address regional affordability, such as through the Regional TOD Fund. Coordinated databases and approaches for shelter and services can help better serve homeless individuals throughout the metro area. And because it has such an impact on transportation and population trends, affordable housing must be a part of our regional land use and transportation plans.