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What’s the answer to Colorado’s affordable housing issues?

Housing
Posted at 7:25 PM, Apr 18, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — A proposal laid out by Governor Jared Polis and Democratic leaders at the state capitol this session is getting heat from local government leaders including Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.

The bill focuses on creating more housing in the state.

The bill's sponsors presented several amendments to the bill during a Senate committee hearing Tuesday night.

Polis points to a need to increase housing in Colorado to address the state's affordability challenges. One amendment introduced Tuesday night eliminates a requirement in the bill for "upzoning" for middle housing.

It's one requirement in the bill that brought out staunch opponents like Mayor Suthers.

"One of the things I’m very insulted by is the notion that they can do a better job at being considered about affordability," Suthers said in an interview with News5. Suthers pointed to projects in the city over the last four years in Colorado Springs that focused on affordable housing.

Polis said it's time for the state to step up, pointing part of the blame on housing costs on local restrictions.

"It’s really about the right that homeowners have," Polis said, “it takes the state to step up and protect your rights as a homeowner.”

Suthers called the claims on local government restrictions "disingenuous" and said other regulations put in place by the state are driving up the costs of construction.

In a visit to Colorado Springs Tuesday, Polis touted the proposal as a solution for people like Sherri Podue, a teacher at Twain Elementary.

Podue has been teaching for six years. Her husband also works for Colorado Springs School District 11 and with an 11-month-old baby at home, expenses are adding up.

"We've thought about moving out of state we've thought about moving to Kansas we've thought about moving to other states, just anywhere that we can afford," Podue said.

She and her husband have looked at buying a house, they were approved for a $250,000 loan, well below the median home price of about $450,000 in Colorado Springs. Podue said they've found five homes in their price range near where they work.

In some cases, homes in that price range are only for people aged 55 and up. The process has been heartbreaking for Podue.

"There's just this balancing act that's so difficult with the housing market and with finances in general, things just get more and more expensive," Podue said.

Her hope is that more affordable options will be available soon and her family can find a home to grow into.

The bill was in the Senate Local Government and Housing Committee going through the amendment process well into the evening hours of Tuesday. The bill passed the committee in a 4-3 vote and now will head to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further discussion.

A total of 18 amendments were passed as a result of this committee hearing.

For a full breakdown of the bill, visit the link here: Land Use Bill
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