Shared housing in Boulder could be over

Posted at 5:09 PM, Sep 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-14 19:09:01-04

Lincoln Miller lives in a cooperative housing arrangement with 11 other people.  It’s one of the few existing arrangements like this in the City of Boulder.

Miller says the Masala House, run by a non-profit, allows people to keep housing costs down and able to live in the city.

"We have house rules and we have a house meeting every week, so we operate like a family, but we aren't related," said Miller.

Miller, the executive director of the Boulder Housing Coalition, is fighting a new measure that comes before the Boulder City Council Tuesday night that would strengthen enforcement efforts against illegal housing.

Right now, only three unrelated people are able to legally live together in a single dwelling.  Miller says shared housing is the most affordable housing and very popular with the college-age students,  as well as low-income workers that keep Boulder running.

Miller says if the fines are stronger and Boulder kicks people out of living arrangements that exceed the limit of three unrelated people to a dwelling, it’ll drive people out of Boulder altogether.

"A lot of people that help to run this city and make this city go, are forced to live in over occupied housing," said Miller.

7NEWS spoke with one college student who lives with eight other people. The student says that arrangement is the only way he can afford to attend college at CU.  He says if kicked out, he’ll likely need to move back home.

Marshall McCurdy is also a student at CU. He says it’s very common for college students to live with five or more people in a house.  He says all students and people living in Boulder have a right to affordable housing.

"I see new apartments going up all the time and they're all really nice and cost a lot of money and college students can't afford these brand new housing, so it's going to push them out of the old housing and out of the city,"  said McCurdy.

City Councilman Andrew Shoemaker is pushing for the measure and tells 7NEWS by phone, if passed, the measure will help preserve the family neighborhoods in town and prevent college student party blocks from forming.

Miller says the council is going about this the wrong way.

"The university's going to be here, forever, it's been here, the whole time, so we to learn how to live together students, non-students alike,” said Miller.