The Denver Foundation urges action on housing crisis

January 11, 2024

Colorado Organizations, Community Leaders, Electeds, Businesses Applaud Polis, Urge State Leaders to Take Action to Address Housing Crisis

Governor Polis Highlighted Commitment to Working with Local Communities to Increase Housing Options and Lower Costs 

DENVER, CO – Today, Coloradans, elected officials, and organizations from across the state shared their support for Governor Jared Polis’s commitment to addressing the state’s growing housing crisis in his annual State of the State. Right now, over one-third of Coloradans are spending more than 30% of their income on their rent or mortgage, leaving little left over for other basic necessities. Even with some cities making progress, the patchwork of solutions isn’t making a dent in the statewide problem. Waiting on each jurisdiction to act to supply homes that residents of the state need is spinning Colorado’s housing shortage and affordability crisis further out of control. Together we can save Coloradans money, support our economy, and protect our air, open space, and environment.


“Colorado’s severe housing shortage is hurting families and communities in every corner of the state with Colorado now having the fifth highest housing costs in the country,” said Austin Blumenfeld, Executive Director of Centennial State Prosperity. “We look forward to our state leaders taking action to increase the supply of housing to meet demand, expand housing choices, and lower housing costs to ensure hardworking folks can afford to live in Colorado.”


“We commend Governor Polis for his leadership in addressing Colorado’s interconnected climate and housing affordability crises,” said Jessica Goad, Vice President of Programs for Conservation Colorado. “We need laws that allow people access to a variety of housing options near public transit to improve the quality of life for all Coloradans. These reforms will improve housing affordability, conserve resources, and reduce air pollution.”


“Colorado needs to stop the pollution that is overheating the planet, and expanding housing opportunities near transit and jobs will create more efficient and walkable communities, reducing climate emissions and saving people money on housing and transportation,” said Matt Frommer, Senior Transportation Associate of Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.


“Families across Colorado worry about their kids not being able to afford a home, their parents not being able to downsize, or even their own ability to stay in their home,” said Adams County Commissioner Eva Henry. “Waiting for each city and county to act to build more housing is spinning the crisis further out of control. We can work together to save Coloradans money on housing, support our economy, and create more housing near jobs, schools, and transit.”


“Having the freedom to afford a home near where you work, go to school, and make your life is at the heart of every hardworking Coloradan’s economic security, opportunity, and well-being. We need a statewide and regional approach to housing. As a member of our regional transportation board, I understand how important it is for us to have transit-oriented neighborhoods and how increasing housing density and choices near transit will help Colorado achieve the vision of both more affordable housing and transit in Colorado,” said Larimer County Commissioner Kristin Stephens.


“We need to build more homes. Period. I’m proud of the work Greeley is doing to build more housing options people can actually afford, but we can’t do it alone,” said Tommy Butler, Greeley City Councilmember. “Every community in this state needs to do their part—and many are not. I am optimistic that our state lawmakers will take action this session to tackle our growing housing crisis.”


“Colorado is facing a pressing housing challenge, where demand has outpaced the availability of homes, making living in our state increasingly unattainable for working families,” said former Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones. “To address this, we must embrace practical solutions that empower families with the economic security to afford homes near their workplaces and schools. This statewide issue calls for collaboration among state and local leaders to establish reasonable and effective standards. By working together, we can ensure smart growth, save people money, and facilitate the construction of diverse housing options to meet the needs of our community.”


“One of the top concerns facing older Coloradans is availability and affordability of housing,” said Sara Schueneman, Colorado State Director of AARP. “Overwhelmingly, more than 80% of older adults say they want to remain in their community but would consider downsizing to smaller homes. Unfortunately, those homes are either not available or too expensive. At AARP, we are looking forward to working with the governor, state legislators, and our local municipal leaders to find solutions that are beneficial to everyone.”


“Our hard-working school staff members, teachers, and higher education faculty are struggling to make ends meet, and the cost of housing is one of the biggest burdens for these essential workers,” said Bernie Jiron, President of the American Federation of Teachers in Colorado. “We look forward to solutions from our lawmakers.”


“We applaud the Governor’s call for bold housing solutions,” said John Tayer, President & CEO at the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. “We recognize and appreciate the need for flexibility within any given community’s unique circumstances. At the same time, we need a statewide solution that encourages and supports local governments to address our statewide housing crisis without delay.”


“By and large, educators across all four corners of the state cannot afford to live where they work, which is why more affordable housing options are desperately needed,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, President of the Colorado Education Association. “When educators have the stability that affordable housing provides, they become more impactful teachers, which directly affects student outcomes. We look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature on this most important issue, which affects us all.”


“Colorado is in a crisis, it’s not a matter of when it will hit, it is here! Stop-gap approaches are no longer working,” said Dr. Kathleen Van Voorhis, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Investment Alliance. “I encourage the Governor and our state leaders to find practical solutions that get people into safe and affordable housing.”


“Affordable housing is essential to our communities’ well-being. We look forward to working with the legislature and the Governor to advocate for land use policies that protect our neighbors from displacement and increase access to affordable housing, particularly for those with the lowest incomes,” said Naomi Amaha, Director of Policy & Governmental Affairs of The Denver Foundation.


“Colorado’s leaders can hit an economic home run by prioritizing investments in affordable housing that include improving energy efficiency. Doing so will put more people to work in clean energy jobs, boost affordability by reducing people’s high energy bills, and increase the tax base because more people will be able to live closer to where they work,” said Susan Nedell, Mountain West Advocate of Environmental Entrepreneurs. “Improving housing affordability with energy efficiency investments also will draw new employers, attract and keep workers, and help existing businesses grow – critical to a community’s long-term economic success.”


“Setting strong housing policy affects everyone in Colorado and is inextricably linked to our climate, public health, and economic stability,” said Alana Miller, Colorado Policy Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Colorado state leaders should allow more types of housing to meet the needs of more people and families. And they should advance smart housing policy that enables more people to walk and take public transit, reduces pressure on our shared open spaces, consumes less energy and water per person, and facilitates a better quality of life.”


“For every 100 low-income households in the state, there are only 31 affordable and available homes. It’s incumbent on all of us to work together to address Colorado’s housing crisis—prioritizing homes for those 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 of Neighborhood Development Collaborative.

“Housing in Colorado is out of reach for many. Without strong leadership, our families are being pushed outside of our communities. Resources are running out, multiple families are living in one home. The time to act is now, we can’t wait any longer,” said Caroline Hysaw, Minister of Now Faith Church.


“In our region, the burden of high housing costs affects both renters and homeowners, impacting our workforce significantly. To foster mobility, Rocky Mountain Partnership recognizes the need to overcome housing barriers and enhance access to affordable transit. It is crucial to approach these challenges collaboratively, ensuring the voices of those most impacted are actively included at the table,” said Elena Mendoza, Director of Engagement of Rocky Mountain Partnership.


“Housing is the foundation of our families, without housing families and individuals face health issues, food insecurity, and access to good jobs. Our state leaders must come together, because this is a crisis,” said Rudy Gonzales, Chief Executive Officer of Servicios de la Raza. 


“Building abundant housing and creating walkable communities connected by reliable transit is essential to solving our climate and affordability crisis. We know the status quo is failing: Colorado’s housing shortage hurts low and middle-income people the hardest by driving housing prices up and forcing people into longer car commutes. It also harms our environment and the health of our communities by increasing sprawl and pollution. We need bold policies to make sure all Coloradans have housing choices that increase affordability and reduce car dependence,” said Margaret Kran-Annexstein, Colorado Chapter Director of Sierra Club.


“Colorado is at an impasse. Housing prices are inaccessibly high, making homeownership for the average Coloradan less and less achievable. In addition to countless health and economic issues housing markets like this foster, it’s pushing people further out of metro areas, increasing transportation costs. With Coloradans relegated to long commutes for work and with few walkable communities to live in, greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase. We desperately need affordable housing options near transit centers and work opportunities for the well-being of the people of Colorado and our climate,” said Joe Antus, Executive Director of Signal Tech Coalition.


“Housing costs are the single biggest threat to Colorado’s future. Too many Coloradans find themselves paying too much for housing and forced to move away from the communities they love. We need more housing options across the state so that Coloradans of all income levels can afford to live where they want to live. Allowing more affordable housing types near transit, more flexibility for developers to provide appropriate parking, and more freedom for homeowners to build granny flats on their own land will go a long way towards improving affordability and creating the housing options that Coloradans so desperately need,” said Luke Teater, Principal of Thrive Economics.


“Here in Littleton, we’ve witnessed how a patchwork of local zoning rules in the south metro area have created a painful, artificial scarcity of homes,” said Elizabeth Kay Marchetti of Vibrant Littleton. “We believe the time has come for basic, state-level rules permitting more types of homes across all communities so that more people have access to decent homes and we can see an end to the ongoing crisis.”


“Status quo local restrictions on homebuilding where people want to live have created negative impacts that cross municipal boundaries and harm the entire state,” said Ryan Keeney, President of YIMBY Denver. “To achieve a low-carbon future where all Coloradans can comfortably afford housing, lawmakers must broadly remove roadblocks to the construction of multi-unit homes in existing urbanized areas. The state government is an ideal vehicle to set minimum housing standards for all of Colorado’s localities. YIMBY Denver applauds Governor Polis’ repeated call for bold policy changes that are necessary to meet this moment.” 


“The people of Fort Collins have been waiting for solutions to a worsening housing crisis for too long. Our neighbors, friends, and families are being driven out of town by high housing costs. We can’t wait any longer to solve this problem,” said Kate Conley, Co-Lead of YIMBY Fort Collins. “We need a statewide solution to this statewide problem and we need it today. We applaud the Governor’s efforts to create enough homes for everyone in Colorado.”