New Laws Help Address Colorado’s Affordable Housing Crisis
On May 17, 2019, Governor Polis signed four bills into law at Unison’s headquarters at Alto Apartments in Westminster. In all, the four bills allocate $230 million over the next five years for affordable housing. It’s estimated the investment could triple the supply of affordable housing statewide.
Alto resident Mike Medina helped champion the legislation, along with Representative Shannon Bird, a Democrat representing Adams County. Rep. Bird sponsored two of the bills, House Bills 1228 and 1319.
House Bill 1228 allows for the expansion of the state low-income housing tax credit. It raises the cap of total allowed state tax credits for the program from the current $5 million to $10 million. The unique benefit of the tax credit is that it is part of a solution, rather than a Band-Aid, to concerns we have about keeping people out of poverty, breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty and giving a critical hand up – instead of a hand out.
House Bill 1319 provides incentives for builders to facilitate affordable housing. Currently, affordable housing developers are having difficulty obtaining financing from lenders because the claw back gives lenders too much discomfort. House Bill 1319 requires an inventory of Public Lands Suitable for Affordable Housing Development and limits claw back of property tax exemption fund for affordable housing projects. This will alleviate lenders’ concerns which hinder development of sorely needed affordable and attainable housing.
Two additional affordable housing bills were also signed into law at Unison.
House Bill 1245 addresses affordable housing funding from vendor fee changes. This bill would increase the vendor allowance to 4% and set a $1,000 monthly cap on the amount businesses can keep. The savings would be transferred to the housing development grant fund within the Department of Local Affairs, which would be used to improve, preserve, or expand the supply of affordable housing in Colorado. This minor change in the way the allowance is administered would result in roughly $8 million being invested in housing across Colorado in years one and two, with additional funding targeted toward other policy priorities, and $45-50 million per year thereafter.
House Bill 1322 expands the supply of affordable housing by establishing the Division of Housing, a new state fund to provide on-going and sustainable funding for programs and projects that improve, preserve, or expand the supply of affordable workforce housing in Colorado.
You can watch a CBS4 interview with Alto resident Mike Medina and Rep. Shannon Bird here.
View more photos from the bill signing here.