Place-Based Policy

August 21, 2023

Addressing the affordable housing crisis through policy change

As Denver’s population grows and changes, it’s critical that the city’s policies and practices change as well. The Denver Foundation and our donors are engaging in shaping those policies and practices to ensure that everyone has a home. Many of our donors choose to give where they live by donating gifts of real estate or participating in place-based giving. Other donors join us in supporting our policy and advocacy work to address issues that are important to the community.

Communities across Colorado are experiencing an affordable housing crisis, which has significant repercussions, given that affordable housing impacts almost every aspect of daily life. Families who have long called Denver home have been forced out of their neighborhoods. People cannot live near their jobs, exacerbating environmental and transportation issues.

This crisis does not only impact homeowners and renters. Developers, builders, and landlords also face challenges in preserving and growing the much-needed affordable housing supply within our communities. Providing infrastructure and housing is a major part of the solution to this issue. It is critical to engage with all these stakeholders to help us understand what resources we need to build new homes or maintain existing affordable housing to better support everyone in our community, from renters and homeowners to developers, builders, and landlords.

Policy Story Mayor Forum Javier Soto Kelly Brough Mike Johnston Michelle Griego Shaun Boyd Paul Teske
PICTURED Javier Alberto Soto, mayoral candidate Kelly Brough, mayor-elect Mike Johnston, CBS4’s Michelle Griego, CBS4’s Shaun Boyd, Dean Paul Teske

Because this issue is so vital, it was a major area of focus for state legislators in the 2023 session. It has also become essential for The Denver Foundation, which began participating in policy work more deeply in 2021 and has grown its presence in this space each year since.

With a dedicated director of policy and government affairs and an extensive network of donors, community leaders, and policymakers, we are using our influence to help shape a new future for our city.

“One of the pillars of our work during this legislative session was advocating for practical solutions to this crisis. We collaborated with partners to support a variety of balanced affordable housing policies. Many passed and will provide some clarity and relief for renters, homeowners, and developers,” said Naomi Amaha, director of policy and government affairs at The Denver Foundation.

This year, Amaha and The Denver Foundation worked on seven unique affordable housing-related policy initiatives, and five passed. By joining and hosting community meetings with local nonprofits, meeting with elected officials, and testifying at the state Capitol, we’ve been very engaged on these issues.

One example of an issue we supported was Denver’s Expanding Housing Affordability Ordinance. It requires that, as new housing units are built, a specific number of units are designated as affordable.

Ensuring there are some affordable homes allows people to stay in the communities where they work, regardless of their wages or salaries. It keeps a community diverse and establishes clear expectations for developers, builders, and investors.

“This is a constantly evolving situation, so we stay nimble, informed, and connected to our community. We listen, we learn, and we use our voice to amplify the things we think will make the biggest impact. Colorado is home to so many people, and we all deserve a seat at the table,” said Amaha.

How donors can get involved

We encourage donors to join us in these policy and advocacy efforts. The Denver Foundation hosts a variety of policy-focused events throughout the year.

“The Denver Foundation was a critical partner throughout the legislative session in advocating for deeply-needed housing policies that elevate the need for housing options for extremely low-income individuals.” - Julie Gonzales, Colorado State Senator

This year, we hosted a mayoral forum with runoff candidates Kelly Brough and Mike Johnston. We publish a quarterly policy newsletter and blog with up-to-date news, information, policy positions, and resources from local media and community organizations.

If you feel passionately about this work, you can give to the Civic Fabric Fund, which supports The Denver Foundation’s policy and advocacy efforts, including grantmaking to nonprofit organizations supporting their policy, advocacy, and voter engagement work.