Mercy Housing, a national nonprofit based in Denver, is joining with other organizations across Colorado in supporting proposed legislation to expand the availability of affordable housing in the state. The bill, now being considered by the Senate, comes as average rents in Colorado’s metropolitan cities continue to grow – leaving few options for low-income working families and individuals in need.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 47 percent of all renter households in Colorado are paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing – a particularly high percentage for lower income residents. The average annual household income of the 2,000 Mercy Housing residents in Colorado is $12,493, leaving market-rate housing options out of reach.
Colorado HB 14-1017 seeks to accomplish two things: reinstate a state-based Low Income Housing Tax Credit program; and repurpose the Home Investment Fund to form a Housing Trust Fund.
“Quality affordable housing is essential for the 2,000 residents we serve in Colorado,” said Sister Lillian Murphy, RSM, Mercy Housing CEO. “We strongly urge legislators to support this bill to ensure that Colorado is prepared to support the thousands of additional low-income families and individuals struggling to find a decent affordable home.”
Reinstating the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program in Colorado is a top priority for Mercy Housing. The LIHTC program has been essential in the development of Mercy Housing properties in Colorado and across the country. The LIHTC program provides the private sector with an incentive to invest in affordable rental housing and it is the primary source of funding available for organizations working to address critical housing needs for low-income families and individuals. Over the course of the program’s history, the LIHTC program has supported the development of more than two million affordable rental homes nationwide. The lack of LIHTC funding in Colorado forced Mercy Housing to halt its affordable housing development in the state in recent years.
The LIHTC is forecasted to create more than $57 million in economic benefit a year to Colorado in the form of jobs, income, and state and local tax revenue.
The bill also turns the underused Home Investment Fund in to a more powerful Housing Trust Fund that could be used for expanding sources of financing from government and making funds available to for-profit developers to build affordable housing properties.
“We want to ensure all Colorado families, especially those who lost their homes during the September floods, have access to affordable housing options,” said Rep. Crisanta Duran, State Representative for House District 5 and co-sponsor of the bill.
Mercy Housing joins Housing Colorado and other organizations in encouraging supporters to reach out to their local legislators to advocate for the passing of this bill.
“Currently, there are 140,000 households in Colorado who need affordable housing and are not being served. Wait lists in existing affordable housing in Colorado often exceed 24 months,” said Sara Reynolds, Housing Colorado Executive Director. “HB14-1017 represents tangible progress towards rapidly increasing affordable housing supply in Colorado and will begin to address the urgent housing needs in our state. Thoughtful leadership from our state lawmakers now will ensure we meet the current needs of our communities, while also securing the resources to meet the needs for our future.”