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Denver City Council poised to pass proposal to increase affordable housing

City poised to pass proposal to increase affordable housing
Posted at 10:12 PM, Jun 06, 2022

DENVER — Denver City Council passed a new plan Monday night to address the city's affordable housing crisis.

The city's Expanding Housing Affordability proposal was developed under the administration of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

In simple terms, the proposal would require builders to include more affordable units with any new construction or pay to offset construction of affordable units elsewhere. This practice is known as inclusionary zoning.

The plan applies to developments of 10 or more residential units, regardless if the units are for rent or for sale. A minimum of 8% to 12% if the units will need to be designated as affordable for a period of 99 years, with the exact percentage varying based on the level of affordability offered. For higher-cost areas of the city, developers would need to designate 10% to 15% of new units as affordable.

If a developer builds a residential community with fewer than 10 units, a one-time "linkage fee" is required, and the money would go towards the city's affordable housing fund.

The city’s linkage fee was implemented in 2017 to support Denver’s first dedicated Affordable Housing Fund. Under the Expanding Housing Affordability proposal, the linkage fee would gradually increase over the next four years.

Any new, non-residential developments would also be required to pay linkage fees.

The city's plan targets households ranging from 60% to 70% of the average median income. Denver's current average median income is $94,000, according to city leaders.

Thus far, the proposal has seen support from the majority of Denver's City Council.

Around 9:30 p.m. Monday, the public comment portion of the proposal's hearing wrapped after nearly three hours.

City council ultimately voted to pass the measure.

“As the first city in Colorado to make use of this new authority, this is a big step forward in addressing this challenge. The lasting affordability guaranteed in this new policy will help bring down costs for hard-working individuals and families and level the playing field for those facing housing insecurity,” Hancock said in a statement.

The new policy will take effect starting July 1, though development applications received by June 30 may continue under the current rules.

This story is developing and will be updated after a final vote.