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May 3, 2023

Legislation to Build More Housing Now Passes Committee

DENVER, CO - The House Transportation, Housing & Local Government Committee today passed landmark legislation sponsored by Representatives Steven Woodrow and Iman Jodeh to create more housing for every budget. 

The committee passed SB23-213, which 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.

“We’ve heard the message loud and clear: we must do more to tackle Colorado's affordability crisis. We must increase our housing supply, reduce costs, and build more housing now,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “We have a decision to make: we can either continue with the status quo of high costs, long commutes, polluted air, and wasted water, or we can grow in a smart, strategic way that facilitates home ownership and housing security. The choice is clear. We must build homes for every Coloradan’s budget, and now is the time to get it done.”

“From Aurora to the Western Slope, our lack of housing is the culprit behind the most intractable issues that we face, and that burden is disproportionately carried by lower income people and people of color,” said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. “If we don’t pass this bill, the people who can least afford housing will continue to be pushed out of the communities they love. We were sent to the legislature to do tough things, and this bold legislation will help reduce the displacement of Colorado families, save Coloradans money on housing and make it less expensive to call our state home.”

SB23-213 is a comprehensive bill that establishes a framework for more housing in municipalities while providing flexibility for local leaders to implement standards that meet the needs of their community. The proposal establishes ways for the state and local communities to work together to develop strategies to meet Colorado’s housing goals more broadly and to avoid regional imbalances in housing production.

The proposal also includes opportunities for local communities to implement solutions that address unique circumstances and build on prior local efforts that address housing abundance and affordability. By creating more housing supply, this proposal will lead to increases in home 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. 

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. 

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. In the ten years before 2007, Colorado was building nearly 50,000 homes a year. In the decade that followed, the number dropped to 26,500, leaving the state 175,000 home short of what Colorado needs to stabilize housing prices.

Many jurisdictions only allow single-family detached housing, often on a large lot and with significant parking requirements. Research shows that reducing or removing 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.

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