By Mike McKibbin / NewsBreak Denver / July 31, 2023
[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] — The Douglas County Commissioners on Monday unanimously and enthusiastically supported an opportunity to work with municipalities in the county to seek state money and add new affordable housing.
Although state voters approved Colorado Proposition 123 in 2022, Douglas County voted against the issue by a 107,286 to 75,240 margin.
The proposition directs 0.1% of Colorado's income tax revenue to help increase affordable housing development in the state, particularly for essential workers such as teachers, nurses and police officers. The measure allows local governments to seek grants to add to their affordable housing stock by 3% annually over the next three years.
The proposition aims to create 170,000 affordable houses and rental units statewide over the next two decades. A $135 million state affordable housing fund directed 40% to support affordable housing and 60% for financing.
Projects and activities eligible for the money include land banking, affordable housing equity to ensure rent is no more than 30% of a household's income, affordable home ownership, and homelessness support.
The measure allows municipalities and counties to work together to meet agreed-upon affordable housing goals in each entity. According to figures presented to the commissioners, there are between 684-799 affordable housing projects in the countywide pipeline and 363 "highly possible" such projects in the county and several cities and towns.
Commissioners endorse participation
"Why wouldn't we do this?" asked Commissioner Lora Thomas.
"I'm glad we're doing this," added Commissioner George Teal. "It's the way we should go. It's been approved by the people, so we shouldn't ignore the money."
Initially, a baseline number of affordable housing units will be established, and the county and municipalities will agree to a 3% yearly increase over the next three years. Failure to reach a 9% increase in that time will make the county and municipalities ineligible for further money from the program.
In a memo, numbers presented to the commissioners listed a baseline of 11,334 affordable housing units and 1,023 to be built over the next three years.
Laydon ‘highly skeptical' of increased housing density
Commissioner Abe Laydon had a few words of caution.
"I'm a huge proponent of workforce housing, but I'm highly skeptical of affordable housing," he said. "In a lot of cases, increased density favors one political party and leads to increased crime and traffic problems. Workforce housing eases traffic problems, and there's some benefits for senior and (military veteran) housing."
Laydon also directed county staff to conduct a thorough housing needs review to include types and locations of housing.
The commissioners will consider a resolution during their Aug. 22 business meeting affirming the county's participation with its municipalities in the state program.
"Let's rock, let's go," Teal said.