Bennet’s Housing Affordability Strategy Group Releases Policy Framework to Address Colorado’s Housing Crisis

Group Presented Four Major Recommendations to Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper During Yesterday’s Roundtable

Washington, D.C.  – Yesterday, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper met with a group of Colorado leaders to discuss a strategy to address Colorado’s ongoing housing affordability crisis. In August, Bennet convened a group of Coloradans to craft a comprehensive strategy that could serve as a roadmap for progress on housing affordability in the state. On Monday, after months of work, Bennet’s Housing Affordability Strategy Group, chaired by Kelly Brough, Jenn Lopez, and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, presented its policy framework to the senators. 

“We cannot solve our housing challenges unless we work together –– they’re too big and too complex for anyone to take on alone,” said Bennet. “I’m grateful to Kelly, Jenn, and Mayor Suthers for convening this group of Coloradans to take a comprehensive look at our housing affordability challenges and put forward specific ideas to address them. To succeed we’re going to have to be a model of collaboration between the public, private, and non-profit sectors and across every level of government. I look forward to continuing our work together to put these recommendations into action and deliver for the people of Colorado.”

“We must find ways to house more people more affordably in Colorado and across the country. These recommendations show how we solve that need,” said Hickenlooper.

“I joined in the process because I thought that we could identify some meaningful steps to address the housing crisis that we could all support together,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “There are a number of ideas that we put together where I feel we’ve hit the mark, especially with bringing more private partners to the table to increase supply and changing our programs to increase flexibility so they are more responsive to conditions on the ground. We now have a framework in which we can continue to work on together and find common ground, which is somewhat rare these days in politics. I’m looking forward to supporting the work that lies ahead.”  

“I’d like to thank Senator Bennet for bringing us all together and Senator Hickenlooper for being part of this important discussion. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to lift up voices from urban, suburban, and rural communities, and Coloradans from across the political spectrum. If we want to address the housing crisis, we need all levels of government, for-profit, and non-profit partners to come together to address these challenges across the state,” said Kelly Brough, Chief Strategy Officer, Metro State University.

“I really think we have something here that is game-changing for our state and for our communities. Together, we face the challenges of increasing the supply quickly, modernizing our response to our housing crisis that gives local communities the flexibility they need to respond, tackling issues like discrimination and sustainability, proactively addressing the issue of housing stability, and bringing more innovation into the system. I think if anyone can do it, it’s the state of Colorado, and I’m excited to see where we go from here,” said Jenn Lopez, CEO, Project Moxie.

The framework includes specific action items under four big-picture recommendations:

  • Increase Supply: The framework spells out the need for the public, non-profit, and for-profit sectors to collaborate on projects that would quickly increase housing supply.
  • Update Our Policy Approach: The framework describes the need to modernize the government’s response to the housing crisis so that local communities receive the flexibility they need to respond to local housing needs. Our updated approach also must include a commitment to working together towards a solution that will level the playing field for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), low-income, and other historically marginalized communities; and take steps to integrate cost-saving sustainability and resilience measures into our building.
  • Housing Stability Through Prevention: The framework outlines ways to take a more proactive approach to housing stability to prevent unnecessary evictions and homelessness before they happen.
  • Integrating Innovation: The framework pushes for more efficient integration and scaling of new approaches to housing into our communities.

The symptoms of the housing crisis exist across Colorado:

  • Homelessness increased 2.4% in 2020 and affects nearly 10,000 Coloradans.
  • Between 2000 and 2019, rents rose faster than incomes in every Colorado county and city with more than 50,000 residents. 
  • Today, more than one-quarter of all households in Colorado are “cost burdened,” paying more than 30% of their incomes in housing costs.
  • In our mountain towns, community leaders have found that they are not able to fill the jobs necessary to support their local economies because workers cannot afford to live in their communities. The issue results in reduced operating hours for businesses, lower levels of service in communities, and loss of revenue.
  • And, some rural communities in Colorado cannot sustain economic growth because the shortage of housing, coupled with low wages, prevents the relocation of businesses and people to their area.