Housing

HOUSING – Colorado is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis.  It is increasingly hard for people to find housing – whether to own or to rent – and to stay in housing they already have.  This is disruptive to families and communities.

Below are bills I’ve sponsored to address the lack of affordable housing, as well as other measures I’ve supported.

Increased Funding for Affordable Housing (HB19-1245) – Whether you’re looking for a place to rent or a home to buy, housing is increasingly out of reach. Yet Colorado has been one of only a few states without a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing efforts. I sponsored this bill to create sustainable funding for housing efforts without raising taxes. By closing a loophole in our existing tax code, this bill will invest nearly $16 million over the next 2 years and $45-50 million per year thereafter for construction of new housing units for sale and for rent and to support other housing efforts. STATUS: signed into law.

Affordable housing bill signing, May 2019.
Affordable housing bill signing, May 2019.

Improving Colorado’s “Warranty of Habitability” (HB19-1170) – For over 10 years Colorado has had weak tenant protection laws. If you are paying rent, you deserve a home that is safe and livable with basics like functioning heat and plumbing. No one should have to move to escape an unsafe apartment, and in our tight rental market, it’s hard to find an available unit anyway. I sponsored this bill to improve tenants’ rights, limit landlord retaliation, and allow tenants to initiate repairs if landlords are not addressing problems impacting safety of a rental unit. STATUS: signed into law.

Expanding the Property Tax, Heat and Rent Credit (HB18-1380) – Low-income seniors and people with disabilities are able to claim a credit against state income taxes to offset the cost of property taxes or rent. The credit amount is very modest and has not been updated in several years, despite the rapidly increasing cost of housing. I sponsored this bill to adjust the amounts available to eligible seniors by inflation and to allow the amounts to increase for inflation going forward to help seniors stay in their homes. STATUS: killed on a party-line vote in GOP state senate.

Budget Amendment (HB18-1322) – I sponsored an amendment to the budget to increase funding to the Division of Housing by $5 million. The Division of Housing is the primary unit of our state that funds construction and renovation of affordable housing units for both ownership and rental. This amendment did not pass, but a similar amendment to increase funding by $1 million was approved. We need to do more to fund affordable housing, but every bit helps. STATUS: signed into law.

Budget Amendment (HB18-1322) – I co-sponsored another budget amendment to unlock $4.7 million for supportive housing for individuals with behavioral health conditions transitioning out of the criminal justice system. This funding would otherwise have gone unused, but now will help people in need avoid homelessness. STATUS: signed into law.

Property Tax Information (HB17-1311) – With property values rising in Arapahoe County and around the metro area, Coloradans should be able to make informed decisions about the true cost of buying and owning a home, including having a full picture of the taxes. I sponsored this bill to direct the state Division of Property Taxation to develop an informational tool on its website that Coloradans could use to estimate their property tax liability based on specific mill levy information.   STATUS – killed on a party-line committee vote in GOP state senate.

I’ve also supported housing legislation to: