Every state in the US is having a tough time finding enough affordable housing for teachers, fire and police, and middle-income wage earners. Colorado is having an especially hard time with the problem.
With housing becoming increasingly expensive in Colorado, advocates are pushing a statewide ballot initiative that would earmark $300 million for the build-out of affordable housing.
“The cost of housing has gone up dramatically,” Mike Johnston, president and CEO of Gary Community Ventures, the main financial backer of the “Make Colorado Affordable” initiative. “We can’t afford a Colorado where Coloradans can’t afford to live here.”
Johnston, a former state senator and past candidate for Colorado governor and U.S. senator, was joined at the press conference by representatives from Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver and Housing Colorado, in addition to a Denver teacher and a Salida restaurant owner. The group had just dropped off over 220,000 signatures at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office; the campaign needs 124,632 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
Initiative 108, as the “Make Colorado Affordable” measure is labeled, would earmark 0.1 of 1 percent of the Colorado income tax and earmark it for affordable housing. That .1 percent would generate $300 million a year, proponents estimate.
The money would go toward building both for-rent and for-purchase affordable housing through a range of mechanisms, including grants to local governments to build housing, gap funding for affordable-housing development projects, and loans for nonprofits. Residents of the resulting units wouldn’t pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent or a mortgage; people who pay more than 30 percent of their salaries on rent or mortgage each month are “cost-burdened,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
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