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April 29, 2023

Housing Affordability, Rental Protections, and Mobile Home Water Quality Bills Pass House

The House passes three bills to address housing affordability, water quality issues, and rental protections 

DENVER, CO - The House today passed three bills to increase flexibility in the housing affordability programs approved by voters by the passage of Proposition 123, improve water quality in mobile home parks, and reduce overbearing rental application qualifications, making it easier for lower-income communities to access housing.

“From mountain communities to the Front Range, Coloradans are struggling to find housing that they can afford,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, sponsor of HB23-1304. “Voters approved of Proposition 123 in the 2022 election to direct resources to create more housing options for Coloradans that are affordable. This bill offers some flexibility for our mountain towns to address the housing shortage. I’m proud to deliver legislation that makes the path to homeownership easier for Coloradans around the state, and especially in rural and mountain communities.”

HB23-1304 will ensure the housing affordability programs created through Proposition 123, which voters approved in the 2022 election, can be implemented effectively across the state and have the greatest impact by getting dollars out the door as soon as possible. 

The bill ensures that tribal governments can access Proposition 123 funds in addition to local governments. It also makes it possible for rural resort communities to access the historic funding of Proposition 123 to accommodate the high cost of living in these areas. Local governments across the state will also be able to partner with neighboring communities to reach their targeted growth rate of three percent.

In 2022, voters approved Proposition 123, which created new housing affordability programs funded with surplus state income tax revenue. The proposition dedicated an estimated $300 million to help local governments purchase land for affordable homes, provide financing for low- and middle income multi-family housing and provide direct support to renters, supply debt financing for projects that qualify for housing tax credits, offer grants and loans for nonprofits to help people purchase homes, and fund programs for people experiencing homelessness. HB23-1304 passed the House by a vote of 61 to 4.

“Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right,” said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs, sponsor of HB23-1257. “Mobile home park residents in my district have been forced to live in conditions where their water is colored red and smells like sewage, which is staining their clothing, breaking appliances, and making them and their family sick. No one should have to live like this. Our legislation would improve Colorado’s water quality standards to ensure that mobile park residents have access to clean and safe water.”

“Veterans, senior citizens, people with a disability, and racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented in mobile home park communities where residents often do not trust the water in their homes,” said Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, D-Fort Collins, sponsor of HB23-1257. “This legislation creates a framework to address water quality concerns to better protect vulnerable communities from water that can cause long term health problems.”

HB23-1257 addresses water quality concerns in mobile home parks by establishing a water quality testing program and creates a path to remediation for mobile park owners to fix water quality issues discovered through the testing program. 

Under this bill, all mobile home parks must be tested by July 1, 2028. If the water test does not comply with drinking standards and contamination levels set by the US Environmental Protection Agency, mobile park owners would have to notify residents within 48 hours of receiving the test results in English, Spanish, and any other applicable language.

The bill also creates the Mobile Home Water Quality Grant Program to help mobile home park owners, eligible non-profit groups, and local governments to address water quality and wastewater issues in mobile home parks.

Mobile home park residents have been raising concern over the poor water quality in their homes in recent years. A 2022 study by the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda found that 30% of Latino Coloradans do not trust or drink the water in their homes, but that number rises to 40% with Latino mobile home residents. Water quality issues are especially difficult to remediate for mobile home park residents because they do not own the pipes or parts that connect their home to the water source. HB23-1257 passed the House by a vote of 45 to 18.

“Sky-rocketing rent prices are quickly pricing Coloradans out of their communities,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, sponsor of SB23-184. “People are picking up second or third jobs to meet the often excessive income requirements that landlords require just so they have a place to live. By capping income requirements and setting a limit on security deposits, we can create more realistic housing opportunities for hardworking Coloradans that want to stay in their community.”

“Senior Coloradans, Coloradans with a disability, and others that rely on a fixed income through public assistance programs are finding it increasingly difficult to qualify for housing because their income isn’t matching the rising cost of housing,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, sponsor of SB23-184. “People are desperate for housing, and some of our vulnerable Coloradans can’t just pick up additional work to offset the increasing cost of living. Our legislation is crucial in keeping our lower-income and fixed income communities healthy, safe, and housed.”

Because there are no current regulations to prevent landlords from requiring prospective tenants to make three to five times as much as their annual rent, some hardworking Coloradans find it impossible to qualify for housing opportunities even if they can afford the rent through their income or housing assistance. SB23-184 would expand access to housing by limiting any minimum income requirement to two times the cost of the rent.

For prospective tenants with a housing voucher or subsidy, this cap would only apply to their portion of the rent obligation, and landlords wouldn’t be able to inquire about or consider their credit score. Large security deposits can also price renters out of housing. This bill would break down cost-barriers by capping security deposits at two times the monthly rent.

Although Coloradans who experience housing discrimination can sue or file a civil rights complaint, they’re not able to raise discrimination as a defense to an eviction. SB23-184 would further protect tenants from eviction by establishing that a violation of the bill's new prohibitions is an unfair housing practice and clarifying that fair housing violations, including source of income violations, are an affirmative defense to eviction. SB23-184 passed the House by a vote of 43 to 22.

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