Governor Polis Takes Action to Help Address Colorado’s Housing Challenges

Monday, August 21, 2023


DENVER - Colorado's housing supply has not kept pace with population growth. The state has current unmet housing needs of tens of thousands of units and will continue to grow — it is estimated the state will add 1.72 million people by 2050. Nearly one-third of Colorado households spend more than 30% of their income on housing and people are forced to live further away from where they work, leading to increased traffic and decreased access to job opportunities. In order to help address this ongoing challenge, Colorado Governor Jared Polis took action, signing a new executive order today. 


“Colorado is at a crossroads, we can take action to help create more housing now or we can go the way of California where home prices are upwards of $1 million. The choice is clear: Coloradans want a rejection of the status quo, which is why I am taking the actions that I can within my authority to streamline and speed up approval and ensure the government is not a barrier to housing being built while helping save people money,” said Governor Polis. “Colorado must have more housing that people can afford in the state, especially for families, our seniors looking to downsize, for our businesses looking to grow and hire workers, and for the next generation and it’s going to take all of us working together to help achieve these goals.”


The goals of the Governor’s executive order include increasing housing opportunities, protecting the environment and aligning with climate goals, aligning transportation with the State’s growing needs, protecting and increasing economic growth and mobility, establishing State processes that are as quick and as efficient as possible, and considering the context and needs of different regions of the state. 


This Executive Order aligns the Polis administration’s programs and policies with increasing housing supply close to existing, new or expanded public transit, safe biking, and walking corridors, places of employment, and other everyday needs of Coloradans. Increasing housing supply in this manner can save people money on housing. Efficient housing types also use significantly less energy and less water per capita per acre, saving residents money and reducing pollution and conserving our precious water and natural resources.


“The high cost of housing also creates less access to jobs, more challenges for Colorado businesses, and threatens our economic success. This Executive Order is one of many important steps to help older adults who want to downsize, young people seeking to live on their own, and first-time homebuyers unable to find homes within their budgets because there is not enough inventory and the homes that are available are too expensive and do not meet their needs. We need more housing for every budget while protecting Colorado's vital resources, including the state’s air, water, and open spaces, and reducing sprawl. The steps we’re taking today are needed to align our state agencies towards these goals,” said Governor Polis. 


Colorado leaders applauded the Governor’s action today.


"By building our communities more thoughtfully, Colorado can reduce air pollution and impacts from climate change, and expand housing options," said Alana Miller, Colorado Policy Director at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "Gov. Polis' order will help move toward those goals by ensuring that the state’s resources are directed in ways that reduce energy and water use, while expanding transportation options and improving housing affordability,”


“Housing Colorado is excited to see the executive order on housing come from Governor Polis today. Housing, and especially affordable housing, remains a top concern for so many Coloradans, especially those making the least amount of money,” said Brian Rossbert, Executive Director of Housing Colorado. “We are hopeful that with today’s executive order, positive steps in the direction of aligning state resources will result in shorter time frames and greater funding for projects that provide affordable housing for our state’s residents. We are confident that the Governor and the Legislature will continue to keep the issue of housing top of mind as we move toward 2024. The actions taken today will help inform further legislative action that will help move the needle on our housing crisis. Housing Colorado remains dedicated to partnering with our elected officials in making our vision that every Coloradan has a safe, healthy, quality, affordable home in a thriving community a reality.”


“As we work to mitigate the housing crisis in Colorado, the Executive Order recognizes not only the importance of the conversations had during the last legislative session, but the critical need for deeper collaboration between the state, local governments, and other partners. Coloradans deserve housing, and partnerships that remove barriers are a fundamental piece of delivering on that goal. The EO is an exciting and positive step forward,” said Tamara Pogue, Summit County Commissioner.


“In Colorado water is critical to our economy, agriculture and environment.  The water divisions within the Department of Natural Resources look forward to aligning our programs with the Governor's Executive Order to support strategic housing investments,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, DNR.  “With smart and integrated planning, enhanced water conservation, and collaborative water projects  guided by  the Colorado Water Plan there can be enough resources for future growth and for needed housing for all Coloradans.”


"We can no longer afford Growth in Colorado to be a haphazard matter.   Strategic growth must be deliberate, measured and aligned with resources and local government input.  State level agencies involved in growth must be synchronized and efficient and sensitive to the unique needs of 64 counties and hundreds of municipalities.  I appreciate the Governor and his staff reaching out to stakeholders and local government leaders for input and best practices ideas.  The strategic growth goals as outlined provide the necessary framework for state agencies and local governments to share ideas and common goals, enabling us to work together.  I look forward to bringing a local and rural perspective to the goals and to partnering with agencies and other communities in the development of solutions that will benefit all Coloradoans," said Dan Williams, Teller County Commissioner.


"With this Executive Order, the Polis Administration is putting the state's money where its mouth is - ensuring that state programs and funding are aligned and supporting strategic growth goals to increase housing availability and affordability, conserve water and energy, reduce climate emissions and air pollution, and safeguard open space and farmland. This is an important first step on Colorado's journey towards a more sustainable and inclusive future," said Elise Jones, Executive Director, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. 


“In public health, we always try to examine the many factors that play a role in a person’s ability to be healthy. The Governor’s Executive Order today addresses many of those factors head-on. It’s truly in the spirit of creating a Colorado where everyone can thrive. We’re thrilled to get to work on the charge he lays out in the order,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, CDPHE.


"Thanks to Colorado voters and legislators in recent years, the state has an unprecedented amount of funding for affordable housing programs that needs to be distributed,” said Jonathan Cappelli, Executive Director, Neighborhood Development Collaborative. “Today's executive order is an important first step in empowering key sectors of our government to provide affordable housing providers with the resources needed to sustainably, effectively, efficiently, and swiftly increase housing opportunity and stability for Colorado's workforce and most vulnerable households. "


“In order to help Colorado’s working families, we must expeditiously deliver support for affordable housing, equitable economic development, and to ensure that our state’s growth is environmentally and financially sustainable. I support Governor Polis’ efforts to streamline and strengthen partnerships between state agencies and local governments, and his administration’s commitment to cutting bureaucratic red tape. I encourage my colleagues in municipalities throughout the state to participate in the stakeholder process created through this executive order to ensure we’re all working to tackle the challenges we face together,” said Juan Marcano, council member, Aurora. 


“As an affordable homeownership organization serving over 45 communities across the state, Habitat for Humanity of Colorado applauds the Governor’s strategic growth goals.    As a state partner, we appreciate the directive to the Division of Housing to expedite the contracting process as well as provide deeper subsidies to increase the housing supply. The alignment of state organizations is essential in addressing the housing crisis.  Habitat for Humanity of Colorado looks forward to continuing our partnership with the state to ensure that affordable homeownership is accessible to all Coloradans,” said Karen Kallenberg, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Colorado.


“We strongly support Governor Polis’ directive to his executive agencies to assess current funding programs intended to support statewide housing needs.  State competitiveness data we’ve collected shows that Colorado has one of the highest housing costs compared to other states.  It’s critical that all tools in the toolbox are used to reduce the housing shortage and affordability crisis that Colorado is experiencing,” said Loren Furman, President & CEO, Colorado Chamber of Commerce.  


"The forces that have simultaneously led Colorado into an era of economic vitality and prosperity are also those that have contributed to imbalance and potential instability in the housing market.  Our office will continue to work with both public and private partners to address the supply of housing and affordability so Coloradans can afford to live and work in the communities they love,” Natriece Bryant, Public Private Partnership Director, DPA.


“Coloradans are grappling with the effects of climate change. This executive order is a step towards aligning state agencies around sustainable housing development. We hope this process will result in bold policies, programs, and funding to save water, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure that growth is consistent with goals to reduce sprawl and advance climate resilience,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, President, Western Resource Advocates. 


"As Colorado continues to attract new residents and opportunities, we recognize the need to align our housing development efforts with the state's expected population growth. Our vision is one where every Coloradan, regardless of income or circumstance, can find affordable and suitable housing. The State and the Department of Local Affairs are committed to promoting housing affordability, availability, and accessibility,” said Rick Garcia, Executive Director, the Department of Local Affairs.  “We believe that by building a diverse range of housing options, we not only secure the state's economic vitality but also ensure that the Colorado dream remains within reach for everyone."


“We applaud Governor Polis for taking further steps to address Colorado's housing crisis,” said Santhosh Ramdoss, President and CEO of Gary Community Ventures. “Today's executive order is a necessary step towards fulfilling the promise Proposition 123 made to meaningfully address the state's affordable housing shortfall.” 


"Colorado’s transportation network is at a crossroads, with rapid population and job growth, an urgent need for housing, and looming transitions for how communities across the state move to accommodate these and other aspects of people’s lives,” said Shoshana Lew, Executive Director of Colorado Department of Transportation. “We need to work across disciplines to ensure that we are thinking holistically about these issues, and this executive order is an important step in that direction.”


“The Colorado Association of REALTORS· applauds and supports Governor Polis in the implementation of these Strategic Growth Directives that can help create, guide and advance the creation of attainable, affordable housing options for every Coloradan. With housing inventory at all-time lows, and a growing population, we are facing challenges that require thoughtful, collaborative solutions to protect the economic vitality and future of our state across diverse communities and property types. The current housing climate has priced out first-time homebuyers, prevents families from moving into larger homes and older adults aren’t able to downsize. This type of collaboration across state agencies and with defined processes will help us reduce the costs and remove the growing barriers to development and growth. We literally can build our way into an environment that delivers much needed housing, protects our communities and embraces the diversity, equity and inclusion of all Coloradans. With more than 29,000 REALTOR· members working and serving in communities across our state, we thank the Governor for his commitment to prioritizing these critical issues and we look forward to being active, engaged partners in finding and implementing solutions that can drive home ownership and all of its benefits,” said Tyrone Adams, CEO of Colorado Association of Realtors.