The Colorado Way: What Coloradans are Saying About the Historic Housing Plan that Will Create More Affordable Housing Options

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

DENVER - Today, Governor Polis, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, Representative Iman Jodeh, Representative Steven Woodrow, Representative William Lindstedt, Representative Ruby Dickson, environmental leaders, local government officials, housing, business, labor leaders, and community leaders will announce a comprehensive plan to help create more housing now for every Colorado budget. 

The plan will create ways for the state to work with local leaders to develop strategies that meet the needs of their communities by incentivizing smart and efficient buildings, allowing more affordable types of homes to be built. The plan will also help Colorado improve air quality, grow open space, conserve our water, and plan for future growth. 

“I am proud to be part of a diverse group of leaders, organizations, and businesses that recognizes that Colorado simply cannot continue with the status quo to solve our housing affordability challenges. I’m confident that local governments can work with the Governor and State Legislature to rise to the occasion to address our affordability crisis, united in our determination to work collaboratively for a better future for our city and our state,” said City of Boulder Mayor, Aaron Brockett. 

“City leaders have been focused on housing and affordability for some time and we thank the Governor and his team and the legislature for caring about this important issue. The state has held hundreds of stakeholder meetings to listen and try to better understand the challenges we face. I’m excited for this next phase of the conversation to see how we can work together to help make housing more available to all in our state,” said Adam Paul, Lakewood Mayor. 

"The simple goal of expanding housing options for Coloradans can have a big impact. It can enable more people to live closer to jobs, amenities, and transit, reinvigorate neighborhoods and communities, reduce sprawl and lengthy commutes, and is one of our most promising solutions to climate change,” said Alana Miller, Colorado Policy Director for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “We have an unprecedented opportunity with strong political momentum in Colorado and urge legislators to be bold in tackling housing affordability to improve our quality of life and our climate.”

“I enthusiastically support this plan to help our State in creating more homes. As a National policymaker and builder of affordable housing, I can attest we are decades behind in ensuring we are building inclusive communities for everyone. This bill will remove barriers to housing that have long existed,” said Albus Brooks, Vice President, Milender White. 

“Centennial State Prosperity applauds Governor Polis and the legislature for taking action to address the housing crisis. Too many Coloradans are struggling to afford housing and the state needs to take action now to lower housing costs. We look forward to working with the Governor and state legislators to help working families get ahead,” said Austin Blumenfeld, Executive Director of Centennial State Prosperity.

"The Colorado Housing Affordability Project is pleased to see our state take action to address the serious undersupply of the most affordable forms of housing. A statewide solution is needed to ensure a level playing field across localities and to address the regional impacts of restrictive land use regulation. This bill does that, while still offering leeway for local officials to respond to local needs. We are particularly supportive of the bill's focus on planning for housing needs and ensuring residential density in transit-served locations," said Brian Connolly, Colorado Housing Affordability Project.

“When we talk about solving for the affordable housing crisis in Colorado, we must focus on meaningful affordability, preventing displacement, and equity in access to housing for marginalized households. We are grateful that the Governor’s Office and bill sponsors are hearing and responding to these issues, and we are optimistic about how this legislation will shape housing policy in an impactful way,” said Cathy Alderman, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

“The governor and legislature’s commitment to affordable housing and the streamlining of approvals for modular, will make a significant impact on the number of houses we can build each year from our factory,” said Charlie Chupp CEO of Fading West.

“Reducing housing costs is not a partisan challenge but rather, high costs are a very serious reality confronting all Coloradoans today.  The challenges faced by those in rural Colorado, rural resort communities or the major urban centers of the front range are very different but our goals are the same.  The supply chain, interest rates, explosive growth, and availability of water and water treatment, are just a few of the realities that got us to where we are today. This led to a call to action – a 6 month long non-partisan collaborative effort with key stakeholders,  leaders and expertise from across Colorado who sat down and developed options for deliberate growth that maximizes local control and focuses state resources.  County and municipal governments working with the state on solutions will result in real movement forward.  It has been very refreshing to see the state working in such a collaborative way, providing a state-level policy-level framework and guidance options while ensuring local control and flexibility for our unique environments in Colorado.  This watershed work will have a very real impact on attainable housing in Colorado,” said Dan Williams, Teller County Commissioner. 

“As a nurse living and working in Commerce City, I deeply understand the need to improve access to housing that is affordable and close to transit or to work. I, along with many of my colleagues, are being pushed out of our communities due to the rising cost of housing and the lack of housing options that are actually available. This means many of us are driving far distances, exacerbating our stress and air quality problem. This has very real health impacts that I see in my clinic staff and patients every day/week/etc., Designing or modifying communities to connect activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations helps increase physical activity, create community connections, and improve health equity. Our state leaders must be forward-thinking and intersectional in their solutions and address the housing crisis in a way that creates walkable communities, improves access to transit, and improves air quality. This package is our opportunity to achieve just that,” said Dr. Darci Martinez, PhD, RN, FNP, National Alliance of Hispanic Nurses.

“Rising costs of housing is outpacing the wages of fire fighters and without affordably priced housing options, many firefighters commute 1-2 hrs to their firehouses. We have seen this problem worsen and expand over time to all corners of the state. I am glad to see our state and local leaders taking action to make housing in Colorado more affordable and available for our fire fighters, workforce, and all other Coloradans,” said Dennis Eulberg, Executive Director for Colorado Professional Fire Fighters. 

“Colorado is grappling with two major crises: housing affordability and climate change. Building more homes in our communities, near transit and jobs, and reining in sprawling development on Colorado’s natural and agricultural lands will help solve both challenges. These smart growth policies are essential for lowering housing costs, cutting traffic and transportation pollution, and protecting Colorado’s great outdoors,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.

“Colorado is facing housing challenges that require an all-hands-on-deck approach of housing advocates, businesses and local leaders coming together to provide real, Colorado solutions. This plan is the Colorado way and will ensure that together, the most affordable housing choices are built for Coloradans,” said Eva Henry, Adams County Commissioner. 

“Having affordable housing advocates, businesses and environmentalists together in support of a bill is rarely seen at the State Capitol, but this is a common sense policy to address an all-hands-on-deck challenge. This bill will deliver more of the most affordable types of housing to Coloradans, making our communities and economy healthier,” said Jake Williams, Healthier Colorado CEO. 

“To keep Colorado competitive, it is an economic imperative that we develop housing for every budget. The lack of housing is one of the biggest concerns we hear from businesses looking to relocate, expand, or even stay in Colorado. There are many stakeholders who need to rally to address our housing crisis, and it is a complicated policy problem, no doubt.  We look forward to working with Governor Polis, legislators, local government leaders, and our business community through this bill to craft real incentives and solutions. Statewide awareness of the issue is essential – and while communities need flexibility to best accomplish our collective goals, this bill and the Governor’s leadership will help provide the tools and incentives needed to move us forward,” said J.J. Ament, CEO of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. 

“Housing for our workforce is critical to a vibrant and sustainable economy. Full stop. The Boulder Chamber stands with Governor Polis and local leaders as they work to eliminate housing development barriers that are inconsistent with our economic, equity and environmental goals,” John Tayer, President and CEO of the Boulder Chamber.

“One community's resident is another community's visitor, and that community's resident is another community's teacher, childcare provider, and or firefighter. Our municipalities are interconnected, yet, we plan housing initiatives as if this issue doesn't cross community borders. It's our duty to work together to solve the housing affordability crisis while maintaining local flexibility to address the housing needs of diverse residents—prioritizing those who are most in need. With smart and thoughtful planning, we can make sure that people aren't priced out of the communities they love, and we can build homes that fit the needs and budgets of all Coloradans,” said Jonathan Cappelli, Executive Director, Neighborhood Development Collaborative.

"Housing is a crisis all over Colorado. Mountain communities have been leading on this issue for years, and we are happy that there is potential for statewide goals that align the entire state, while still respecting the differences in communities," said Glenwood Springs  Mayor, Jonathan Godes.

“The climate crisis and the housing crisis are intertwined. We all deserve clean air to breathe and a stable place to call home. That’s why we’re very encouraged by this policy and its potential to help reduce climate emissions, create more diverse housing options to meet the needs of  Colorado and help Colorado build a more sustainable and equitable future,” said Kelly Nordini, CEO of Conservation Colorado.

“Across Colorado, there are servers and cooks, janitors and maintenance staff, home health and childcare workers earning far too little to live in the communities where they work. In this effort to more sustainably share our land while expanding housing supply, we must increase the number of homes affordable to people living on low and fixed incomes and prevent the displacement of vulnerable communities. We appreciate the openness of the Governor’s and departmental staff and the legislature on these critical considerations and are committed to ongoing conversations with them, bill sponsors, and fellow stakeholders as we work together to get it right,” Kinsey Hasstedt, State and Local Policy Director, Enterprise Community Partners.

“When it comes to talent recruitment and workforce development, Colorado’s limited housing supply and affordability is a growing concern for businesses statewide. We are in desperate need of new tools and incentives to increase the development of new housing, especially in high-demand areas where employers are looking to attract a diverse collective of workers. We applaud Governor Polis for his leadership to streamline development and deploy new tools to ensure our communities can support long-term growth in Colorado’s workforce and economy,” said Loren Furman, President & CEO, the Colorado Chamber of Commerce.

“We applaud Governor Polis’ bold leadership aimed at addressing the state’s housing inventory crisis. The Governor’s plan is smart and will make a real difference, cutting red tape, promoting sustainability, and getting the people of this state the housing solutions they so desperately need,” said redT Homes CEO, Nathan Adams.

“Addressing the housing crisis requires state and local governments to come together to create effective change that will allow more affordable housing to be built, faster.  By breaking down barriers and building the most affordable type of housing options, more Coloradans will be able to find the home they deserve, and our communities will continue to flourish,” said Westminster City Councilor Obi Ezeadi.

“Colorado has a unique opportunity to become a national model in our approach to addressing our housing crisis as we work collaboratively across sectors to better leverage our state and local resources. The policy goals in the More Housing Now bill will streamline regulations, making it easier to increase wealth equity, housing supply, and the variety of housing types necessary to make sure every Coloradan has a place to call home,” said Pat Hamill, CEO, of Oakwood Homes.

“The unaffordability of housing in Colorado has reached crisis levels, and this often causes a terrible domino effect related to food security, transportation, health, and education. Having a safe and affordable home—whether you rent or buy—is key to quality of life and economic security. So, this is a welcome, much-needed legislative solution,” said Papa Dia, Executive Director, the African leadership Group. 

“I emphatically applaud Governor Polis’s inspirational leadership; a new Coloradan housing future is upon us. The goal must be to end our housing depression. Let us start with the first point on the value chain, let us start with our codes, let us scrutinize our scale decisions, and let us build the homes that Coloradans require to thrive,” said Peter LiFari, Chief Executive Officer of Maiker Housing Partners.

“When Colorado builds better, Colorado is better. Not only will this bill infuse housing affordability back into our communities, but it will also tackle issues core to keeping Colorado the best place to live. It will diversify the types of homes available so people have options to rent or buy, keeps people in the homes and communities where they've lived for generations, ensures there is statewide planning to accommodate homes that people can afford for every budget, saves taxpayer dollars on sprawling infrastructure projects, conserves water and our beautiful open spaces, and begins to reverse our climate crisis. The benefits of statewide planning and regional coordination are endless,” said Ray Rivera, Colorado Builds Better. 

“The lack of affordable housing options is a crisis affecting our entire State, and requires immediate action. Housing is a fundamental human need and government plays a role ensuring an equitable pathway for everyone.  We look forward to continue to collaborate with the  State in order to holistically address the housing crisis,” said Raymond C. Lee III, Greeley City Manager.

“We’re encouraged to see Governor Polis, the state legislature and local leaders taking the lead to create systemic changes to our state’s land use policies. The lack of affordable housing directly affects our teacher shortage, which in turn directly affects the quality of our students’ education. Where affordable housing is hard to find, so are educators,” said Rob Gould, President of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

“Affordable and attainable housing remains one of the most critical needs in mountain destination communities. I applaud the Governor and legislature for bringing forward a viable solution for barriers currently preventing communities and businesses from creating more housing options locally. With the proposed changes in legislation, communities, and businesses like Steamboat Ski Resort, can identify new ways to create more affordable and attainable housing opportunities for our workforce; ultimately supporting our economy and providing a foundation for locals to thrive,” said Rob Perlman, President & Chief Operating Officer, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation.

“Governor Polis is putting small businesses first by tackling the housing crisis head on. Colorado Springs has a thriving small business community, but it’s become increasingly challenging for workers to find affordable housing. This is an issue that affects all wage and salaried workers. Lowering housing costs with sustainable solutions will attract small businesses and incentivize home-grown talent to stay in Colorado Springs,” said Rodney Gullatte, Jr. CEO of Firma IT Solutions in Colorado Springs.

“Our Governor has been at the forefront of our major issues in Colorado from education and health to employment and housing, his leadership is transformative,” said Rudy Gonzales, Servicios de la Raza.

“Our health care workers are experiencing our housing crisis both professionally and personally. First, they can't afford to live in or near the communities they serve because there aren't homes that fit their needs and budgets. Second, when they go to work, they treat patients experiencing the health impacts of our poor air quality, largely caused by heavy traffic and commuting emissions. This solution will help ease the extreme burden housing costs have on our health care workforce while making our air cleaner and healthier for their patients,” said Sabrina Pacha, Senior Director, Healthy Air and Water Colorado.

“Surveys by AARP show most Coloradans, including older adults, prefer to live in walkable neighborhoods that offer a mix of housing and transportation options,” said Sara Schueneman, AARP Colorado State Director. “Maximizing middle housing helps keep people in the neighborhoods they want to age in with dignity.” “Middle Housing can provide a community with a wider range of housing options, at various price points, while maintaining the character of the community. They also provide the size and affordability options that people of all ages — including older adults — need but can’t often find,” Schueneman added. 

“As both a City Councilor and an urban planner working in the Denver region, I support the Governor's office and legislature's goal of addressing our housing needs through strategic planning and policy. We are at a critical juncture where growth has outpaced our housing supply, placing many out of reach of housing they can afford. The framework of this bill provides a path toward diversifying and adding housing where we have the capacity to grow. While it's still a work in progress and will be refined further, the goal of this bill is to offer flexibility to each community, respecting our Colorado culture of local control. Our communities are all very different--from our location and access to transit, to whether we're built out or still growing--and we all need tools that will meet us where we are today and where we're headed in the future. I look forward to further refinement of this vision,” said Sarah Nurmela, Westminster City Councilor.

“Housing is the biggest issue for the average Coloradan, and we're deeply grateful that the Governor continues to center housing as a priority.  Our current housing crisis demands that we consider every and all solutions. We hope this legislation serves to increase the number of units available and make it possible for more people to have a place to call home,” said Shara Smith, Exec Dir of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. 

“Colorado’s housing crisis affects all of us, and we must work together to solve it. Whether it’s a teacher, a first responder, or a small business owner—the housing shortage impacts far too many Coloradans.  Solutions will require deeper collaboration between state and local governments. I appreciate that this legislation seeks to find the right balance between statewide strategies and the unique nature of each community across Colorado,” said Tamara Pogue, Summit County Commissioner. 

“The new legislation addresses a long-standing issue that Colorado communities have been facing. This will hopefully serve its purpose for not only homeowners but also renters who I am hopeful will benefit from this effort,” said Tejwant Mangat, Sikh community leader.

“Affordable housing is an important contributor to student success and also to the well-being of our faculty and staff. The University of Colorado appreciates and applauds the efforts of state and local leaders to find creative solutions so that members of the CU community can continue to call Colorado home,” said CU President, Todd Saliman.