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Local advocacy group works to find solutions to rising rent costs

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Posted at 10:19 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 09:10:45-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — We keep talking about rising rent costs and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. According to a recent report by Redfin, apartment rent costs have risen 15 percent in the past year. But how is this impacting El Paso County?

Jacob Alexander has been a renter in Colorado Springs for years, watching his rent increase dramatically.

“In the year and a half that I’ve lived here, my rent has gone up three hundred dollars,” said Alexander.

“Rent keeps going up and now people are having to cut back on actually being able to be excited to be alive. You can’t go out and do the things you want to do because all of your money is going to just keeping a roof over your head,” said Alexander.

One group wants to help. The Community Housing Affordability Taskforce, otherwise known as "CHAT" is an advocacy group that has been working to make rent more affordable for middle income workers.

“What’s great about this group is I think it’s for the first time in our city, folks who all share the concern about housing affordability, coming together, but all having slightly unique perspectives,” said Susan Edmondson, of the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs.

And they're concerned if rent prices don't go down more and more workers will move out of the area.

“If we’re not positioning ourselves to take an influx of not only new migrating workers and work force, along with our already naturally growing population, then we’ll find ourselves in a serious crunch,” said David Dazlich, Vice President of Government Affairs, Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC.

The group has put together recommendations for officials at the local, state, and federal levels. Local is their first focus. Having presented their ideas to city council.

“They are concerned. They feel the pinch in their own districts, and they speak readily that we really have a crunch. We have to help this group of people that are being pushed out of our market,” said Ann Kidd, chair at Pikes Peak Association of Realtors.

“In order to address housing affordability, there’s lots of different ways that go about that but often times, policies, zoning, codes, that are both very important right. But we got to make sure that those kinds of things don’t create consequences that increase the cost of what we are building,” said Edmondson.

The advocacy group is concerned that rising rent will never let people become homeowners.

“I just don’t want people to give up on the American Dream of being a homeowner and know that our city is concerned about your strife’s, and we are doing what we can to help you get that roof over your head,” said Kidd.

Chat has held over 20 meetings this past year and has conducted several polls to see how the cost of housing is impacting our county. They say their goal is to get laws changed to help. For example, they want to lobby for the typical mortgage term to be extended from 30-40 years.

A recent poll conducted by the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC found that 91percent of renters in El Paso County say their rent cost is a big problem. 55 percent of homeowners said the cost of housing is a big problem.

The seven groups that make up CHAT are below:

- The Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs
- Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC
- Apartment Association of Southern CO
- Downtown Partnership
- Pikes Peak Association of REALTORS
-Affordable Housing Collaborative
-City of Colorado Springs Planning and Community Development

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