DENVER (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis took executive action on Monday in hopes of spurring more housing development across Colorado.
The move comes after the governor’s major proposal to create more types of housing throughout Colorado — an effort known as the land use bill — failed to make it out of the Capitol this past legislative session.
Polis said the executive order is all about making sure Colorado uses existing resources to get more housing built quickly.
“There’s things that we’re able to do to deliver more housing sooner, and that’s exactly what today’s executive order is all about,” Polis said at a news conference for the order’s signing.
Polis housing order aims for speed
The governor’s six-page executive order does a few key things to remove some of the bureaucracy that slows housing production across the state.
The first step is getting the Department of Local Affairs to turn grants around faster.
“This action helps address this issue by ensuring that the state piece of this, which is generally state-funded grants and loans for housing projects, is turned around quicker,” Polis said. “We’re going to get from 240-day turnaround average DOLA for loans under this executive order to 90-day turnaround. And we’re very excited about getting the money out the door sooner.”
State agencies will also need to evaluate their inventory and help nonprofits and local governments fund housing efforts.
“Relevant state agencies — and that’s the energy office, the office of economic development, transportation, natural resources, local affairs, public health and environment and personnel and administration — to evaluate really everything they do that touches housing: grants, policies, plans, procedures, rules, including utilization of state land — to, that they support local governments and regional governments and nonprofits,” Polis said.
And come next summer, in July 2024, the state housing department will need to have its contracts drafted and executed within three months.
“The executive order also directs the Department of Local Affairs and Division of Housing to draft and execute their contracts for grants and loans within 90 days,” Polis said.
After land use bill fails, Polis aims for state action
Polis tried to pass a major land use bill that would have opened the development of housing, like duplexes, by removing zoning barriers, which cannot be done without changing existing state law. This executive order will not do that either, but it does look to uphold some of the other priorities from that measure, like developing housing near transit and housing that aligns with water and air quality goals.
The governor said affordable housing is the major goal of the new executive order, especially with resources from Proposition 123 coming into play soon, which will direct an estimated $300 million a year to affordable housing projects. Polis said the state is doing what it can with what it has.
The governor said the state needs to lead by example when it comes to housing, saying local governments need a roadmap to follow.
“If we want to be part of the conversations about how to remove barriers to housing at the local level, we should show that the state is doing everything that we can to get money out quickly and to align housing with our livability goals, reducing traffic, water conservation and others,” Polis said.
The order is set to remain in effect unless it’s modified or rescinded by a future executive order from the governor.