DENVER (KDVR) — It’s official. Colorado’s out-of-reach housing is the state’s biggest concern according to its towns and cities.
Colorado’s housing market is now one of the nation’s most expensive after a decade of population growth capped by a pandemic buying melee that left the housing stock thousands of units short. A report from the Colorado Municipal League confirms that housing costs are the largest concern for the 2,000+ towns and cities that are members, followed by budget constraints and policing.
According to the report, 68% of towns and cities listed housing affordability as one of the biggest challenges they face. Budget constraints and policing were 56% and 36% of towns’ and cities’ top concerns, respectively.
This issue stretches to most of Colorado’s local and state political landscape. Since housing costs are the worst problem in more populated areas, it will involve the mayors and councils of every major city and county in the state.
The percentage of towns and cities that listed housing as a top concern is highest among larger cities. Among cities with more than 25,000 people, those which hold the overwhelming majority of Colorado’s people, 86% of cities listed housing as the biggest concern.
The problem most Colorado cities are facing will only get worse in 2022 according to Tyler Goodspeed, a former White House economic adviser for the Trump administration and fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
“I think in 2022, the big pressure point is going to be rent and the equivalent of rent for owners, because we saw huge increases in leases and rents in 2021 and huge increases in home prices,” said Goodspeed. “I think in 2022, we’re going to see that filter through to higher rental price inflation, which is 40% of core consumer price inflation.”
Large cities are taking a range of actions to address them, but most of their actions amount to plans and initiatives rather than concrete steps at a policy or business level.
Within cities over 25,000 people, 86% said they were “working regionally to address housing issues.” Another 64% said they were not focusing on housing prices per se, but rather creating plans to address homelessness.
The portion of Colorado’s larger municipalities that say they’re taking direct steps to lower prices by increasing housing supply is lower. Half say they are zoning their cities for auxiliary dwelling units, such as the “granny flats” recently approved in several Denver neighborhoods. Another 21% are waiving permit fees for developers, and 14% say they are fast-tracking land use applications to speed up housing construction.