The Push for Affordable Housing in Denver

Housing affordability has long been an issue not only in Denver, but across Colorado. The Denver Metro Chamber's Prosper CO is actively working to increase workforce housing options in the Denver Metro region.

As part of the Chamber’s advocacy work both at the state and local levels, we are prioritizing housing policy that increases the supply of homes in Colorado, with a focus on homeownership for families that make 60-120% area median income. Because we know that homeownership continues to be the most common way to build wealth in our nation, we are prioritizing policies that increase homeownership, such as those that:

● Increase flexible zoning codes to allow for duplexes, triplexes and quads.
● Establish better incentives for developers to build affordable housing.
● Reduce costs and burdens for developing affordable housing.
● Reduce time for permitting approval where needed.
● Address the lack of data and coordination by funding regional approaches and making more transparent data available when possible.
● Accelerate the mapping and use of public or other available land for development.

Read more about our policy priorities related to housing.

The Chamber board and Prosper CO have heard from many employers that this is an issue they want to solve and are ready to engage in advocacy and partnerships.

As an example, in November, Prosper CO activated its network of community leaders and employers on behalf of Denver Metro Habitat for Humanity to advocate for a zoning change for a vacant cul-de-sac in Aurora that will allow for the development of 20 workforce homes. These homes will be available for homebuyers making up to 80% of the area median income, or about $79,000 annually for a family of four. Prosper CO asked four large employers to contact an Aurora city councilman to advocate for the project. That councilman’s swing vote became a “Yes” vote, and the zoning change was approved.

This is a win for attainable housing in the Denver area and will allow families to build wealth through homeownership. Recent studies have shown that renting in most of Colorado is cheaper than buying a home, with the average Denver home costing $677,607 in December. However, homeownership is still the cheaper option in many counties across the United States. These statistics prove that Colorado is in desperate need of housing that is tailored to its workforce, and Prosper CO is working to fill this need.

The lack of workforce housing options is a barrier to both families and local businesses. Not only does it prohibit our region from growing its workforce, but many communities cannot afford to house their workers, meaning that an already established workforce is getting priced out of its own community.

While the approval for the affordable housing project in Aurora is a great step in the right direction, Prosper CO knows that we must proactively advocate for more flexible zoning at the municipal level, not just project by project.

The Chamber is also tracking state-level legislation, now that the 2022 legislative session is underway. Lawmakers recently introduced House Bill 1051, which extends the affordable housing tax credit for another 10 years after its set expiration in 2024, and it increases the allocation from $10 million to $15 million annually from 2023 to 2034. The Chamber and Prosper CO support this bill, seeing it as a step in the right direction for increasing our affordable housing options.

Follow the 2022 legislative session with the Chamber and stay informed on Prosper CO’s work.