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May 5, 2023

House Advances Legislation to Build More Housing Now

Legislation would build more homes for every budget, lower costs for Colorado families, reduce traffic and improve air quality

DENVER, CO - The House today advanced landmark legislation sponsored by Representatives Steven Woodrow and Iman Jodeh on a preliminary vote to create more housing for every budget. The legislation will next be considered for third reading and final passage in the House.

“Our current system is broken. We must take action now to address Colorado's affordability crisis and build more housing now,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “Coloradans are being forced out of their communities and commuting long distances to get to their workplace while our housing shortage makes it harder to attract new businesses. Our plan will legalize the types of homes Coloradans want and can afford while increasing density near transit hubs. This will reduce the cost of housing, improve our air, and create jobs. We must take bold action now to increase our housing supply and build homes for every Coloradans’ budget, and we will.”

“Colorado’s housing shortage is displacing Colorado families and making it harder to continue to call Colorado home,” said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. “From first time homebuyers and seniors to teachers and firefighters, our community members are commuting long distances just to get to their workplace. Half measures and baby steps will not solve this problem. The cost of doing business in Colorado is going up because workers can’t find a place to live that they can afford. If we don’t act now, building a future in Colorado will become harder and harder and we’ll continue to see lower-income and hardworking Coloradans struggle with the high cost of living in our state.”

SB23-213 is a comprehensive bill that establishes a framework for more housing in Colorado communities while providing flexibility for local leaders to implement standards that meet the needs of their diverse communities. By allowing more housing, this proposal will lead to more housing options for every budget so that Coloradans can live in the communities they want without being priced out. The plan also helps improve air quality, protect open space, conserve water and plan for future growth while helping prevent displacement. 

A PEW study found that restrictive zoning policies make it more difficult and expensive to build new housing that accommodates a community’s housing needs, which causes home prices and rents to skyrocket. Another 2023 study found that rent prices across Colorado increased by 31 percent on average from January 2017 to January 2023, while municipalities that implemented similar reforms saw minimal rent increases. 

Cities like Mineappolis, Minnesota, New Rochelle, New York, Portland, Oregon, and Tysons, Virginia have updated their zoning codes to allow for more and lower-cost housing options to address their housing needs. These zoning reforms have successfully limited rental price increases at 0 to 5 percent, compared to Colorado rental increases between 22 to 53 percent. Colorado’s population increased 14.8 percent between 2010 and 2020, but the housing stock only grew by 12.6 percent. With housing stock not meeting population demands and low household sizes, Coloradans are left to compete over limited housing opportunities. 

Many jurisdictions only allow single-family detached housing, often on a large lot and with significant parking requirements. Research shows that reducing or removing minimum parking mandates can reduce the cost to construct more affordable homes like multifamily housing. It also encourages alternative and environmentally friendly transportation like walking and biking.

SB23-213, as amended by the House, will allow property owners in urban municipalities to build ADUs on their property, enact locally tailored anti-displacement and affordability measures, encourage multi-family housing near mass transit hubs, and reduce minimum parking requirements that drive up housing construction costs and lead to higher rents.

The plan outlines strategies to create more housing now including:

  • Legalizing the ability to build ADUs in existing residential areas in urban municipalities,

  • Reducing parking minimums in strategic growth areas, key corridors and transit-oriented developments as well as for accessory dwelling units. 

  • Paves the way for more multifamily housing in or near transit-oriented and walkable communities to lessen the number of cars on the road, improve air quality, reduce pollution, and save people money on commutes,

  • Assessing statewide housing needs and identifying affordability strategies tailored to local and regional needs. The bill will provide a framework for state, regional, and local agencies to strategically align investments and policies and track progress, and

  • Constructing more homes and creating jobs by eliminating arbitrary laws that prevent property owners from building the housing units local communities need.

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