Boulder Boosts Affordable Housing Goal Ahead of 2035

Boulder’s goal for more affordable housing got a boost from Boulder City Council Tuesday night even as an earlier goal missed its mark. As KGNU’s Roz Brown reports, the city’s goal of making 10 percent of its housing stock permanently affordable to low-and moderate-income households will not be met for another five-to-ten years, but that did not stop speakers at the Boulder city council meeting last night from recommending that council adopt an even more ambitious goal.

 

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    Boulder Boosts Affordable Housing Goal Ahead of 2035 KGNU News

 

“We’re seeing many of our young professionals, including teachers and restaurant staff, having to move out of Boulder to find something affordable,” said Boulder Chamber of Commerce Director, John Tayer.

“Even worse,” continued Tayer, “we’re seeing that rising housing costs and affordability is making Boulder inaccessible and unwelcome and creating dire environmental consequences.”

Currently 3,500 homes or 7.5 percent of the city’s housing stock is deed-restricted for low- and moderate-income residents. Longtime Boulder resident Evan Freirich said it’s not enough and urged council to be more aggressive.

“If not now, when?,” asked Freirich. “This is not some pie-eyed idea – we know that every year we delay the cost is going to go up, because basically a house now costs $400,000 more than eight years ago.”

In providing similar data, city staff noted that since 2010, the cost to rent in Boulder has increased 39 percent, and home ownership costs have increased 71 percent during the same time period, while wages in Boulder have risen only 9.6 percent. Statistics show that one in five people in Boulder live in poverty, and 43 percent of city households earn less than $50,000 per year.

“I want a complete city,” said councilmember Lisa Morzel. “For me, that means people living here from all economic backgrounds and I want people to quit commuting and be able to live here.”

At the end of the discussion, Boulder City Council increased the affordable housing goal from 10 to 15 percent, with a target date of 2035. To reach that, Boulder would need to add around 250 units per year for the next 16 years, at a cost of $15 million per year.

In addition to Boulder’s actions, the Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership is debating whether to ask county residents for a tax increase – either this year or in 2020 – to create an affordable housing trust fund. Boulder is a member of the group and Mayor Suzanne Jones advocated going to voters sooner than later.

“I think given that affordable housing is ranked as the biggest issue we face, that we’re obligated to look at any reasonable tools to address it,” said Jones. “We know that things only get more expensive the more we wait.”

But Councilman Sam Weaver disagreed about the timing.

“This county and town have had a hard time in the past saying yes to this,” said Weaver. “I wouldn’t support it for 2019, because we need to spend more time educating the public – if it goes down again, we’re done.”
If the affordable housing trust fund as currently being considered is approved by voters, 75 percent of the funds would be distributed to member jurisdictions with the remaining 25 percent divided in competitive grants to programs and projects. Members of the Housing Partnership are still debating if that should be a property tax, or sales tax increase.

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    Boulder Boosts Affordable Housing Goal Ahead of 2035 KGNU News

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