Affordable housing scarce in Colorado

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The Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing reported this week that there are twice as many low-income households as there are affordable rental units in Colorado. Housing units are deemed affordable if the household pays 30 percent or less of monthly income to rent.

DOH analysts also found there are 49 rental units affordable to every 100 households that earn $20,000 or less per year. The report assumes that households earning $20,000 can afford a monthly rent payment of $500, or 30 percent of monthly income.

At the same time, there are 43 affordable rental units for every 100 households earning $15,000 or less per year, and 53 units for every 100 households at an income of $10,000 or less.

Higher income families continue to have more options.

For or households making $40,000 per year, there are 102 rental units for every 100 households.

“The greatest challenges in affordable housing are at the lowest income levels,” said Colorado Housing Division Director Pat Coyle. “The market is doing well at housing families with moderate incomes, but a large number of families with very low incomes in Colorado are paying much more than they can afford for housing.”

There were geographical differences, however.

In the metro Denver area, there were 42 units affordable to every 100 households earning $10,000 or less, and 38 units affordable to households earning $20,000 or less. Affordable rentals were more accessible in largely rural Mesa County where there were 58 units affordable to households earning $10,000 or less, and 46 units affordable to households earning $20,000 or less.

The problem could worsen because it’s not feasible for developers to construct market rate rental housing for those making $15,000 or less; the cost of construction and land is simply too high.

The Housing Mismatch and Rent Burden Report is available at the Division of Housing blog: http://divisionofhousing.blogspot.com/