74% of low-income Colorado renters spend more than half their income on housing

Margaret Jackson

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By Margaret Jackson / NewsBreak Denver

Facing a shortage of 114,378 available affordable and available rental homes, 74% of low-income renters in Colorado are severely housing cost-burdened and spend more than half of their incomes on housing, according to a report released Thursday.

Colorado has just 29 available, affordable homes for every 100 low-income households, according to The Gap: A shortage of Affordable Homes, an annual report on the shortage of affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income families and individuals.

“Coloradans of all income levels know that we are living through a housing crisis in every corner of our state,” said Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and vice chair of the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force subpanel. “What the latest Gap report demonstrates is that this crisis disproportionately impacts the poorest renter households. Solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Colorado must start with low-income renters, not trickle-down plans that only assist the upper and middle classes.”

Nationally, there’s a shortage of 7 million affordable and available rental homes for the lowest-income households. There are just 36 affordable and available homes for every 100 of the lowest-income renter households.

Investing in affordable housing

Although the federal government took action to protect the lowest-income renters, its efforts were temporary. Most eviction moratoriums have ended, and resources such as federal emergency rental assistance are running out.

Longer-term investments in affordable housing are needed to combat the underlying shortage of affordable housing that exposed so many of these renters to housing instability in the first place.

The Affordable housing Transformational Task Force and its subpanel of subject-matter experts recommend financing affordable housing projects and programs through grants and revolving loans.

“Colorado has a huge opportunity to invest in housing with the American Rescue Plan Act,” said Brian Rossbert, executive director of Housing Colorado and chair of the subpanel to the Affordable housing Transformational Task Force.

“Our recommendations to the Task Force were informed by those communities disproportionately impacted by COVID and have had historical barriers to accessing safe and affordable housing.”

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