(May 6) –Three bills designed to increase access to affordable housing and encourage home ownership passed the House with bipartisan support this morning. This affordable housing package is a priority for the Democratic caucus due to the ongoing housing crisis in Colorado— both for aspiring homeowners and for renters.
One out of every three children in Colorado lives in a household that spends more than 30 percent of their income on housing, which leaves very little available for necessary living expenses, let alone saving for college or retirement.
HB16-1465, sponsored by Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, and Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, extends Colorado’s successful Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program until 2019. Housing tax credits help developers leverage federal tax credits and private investments. One developer testified in committee that for every dollar they get from LIHTC, they are able to leverage an additional $22. The bill also guarantees that the units remain affordable for at least 15 years. The bill passed 46-18.
“This bill will make tax credits available to developers to create more affordable housing across the state of Colorado,” said Majority Leader Duran, who sponsored the original LIHTC legislation several years ago. “Whether you’re in an urban area of the state, a rural area or a suburban area, housing is an issue that continues to be at the forefront for many Coloradan families. And this is something that is proven to have a positive impact.”
The second bill, HB16-1466, sponsored by Reps. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood, and KC Becker, D-Boulder, passed 37-27. The bill transfers $40 million from the unclaimed property trust fund to fund rental assistance, the creation of affordable housing and home ownership support.
“We can use this money and make a serious difference for literally hundreds to thousands of people finding homes,” Rep. Tyler told his colleagues during second reading. “There are an awful lot of people in this state who are spending more than half their income on housing. We need some support for the people of Colorado who work hard and need a place to live.”
“We don’t have enough affordable housing now,” said Rep. Becker. “Our housing in Colorado is not affordable because wages are not keeping up with the cost of housing. Supply will address that and the way to get more supply is with this bill.”
The third affordable housing bill passed this morning was sponsored by Majority Leader Duran and Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton. HB16-1467 allows Coloradans to designate a new or existing account as a tax-free first time homebuyer’s account. The bill passed 50-14.
“These are meaningful steps forward to address the housing crisis in the state,” said Majority Leader Duran. “We are trying to relieve the burden of taxes on people who are trying to save to purchase their first home. Whether they are able to save small or large amounts of money, there are a lot of people in Colorado that any amount will help.”
“This bill is really great because if you’re a parent and you want to help your child save for their first home, you can set up an account for them and those funds can build over time and be used to help purchase a first home,” added Rep. Salazar.
The three bills proceed to the Senate.