Increasing Access to Housing & Cutting Red Tape: Colorado Energy Office Releases Analysis Showing Major Savings from More Housing Now Bill Package

More Housing Now Bill Backed by Broad Colorado Coalition, Study Shows Improvements in Affordability, Water Conservation, Equity & Access to Opportunity

DENVER - One week ago, Gov. Polis, Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, Representative Steven Woodrow, Representative Iman Jodeh, environmental leaders, local government officials, and housing, business, and labor leaders announced a comprehensive plan to help create more housing for every Colorado budget. The More Housing Now plan takes action to cut red tape and incentivize building more affordable and efficient housing options that meet the needs of local communities.

Today, Governor Polis and the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) released interim results from a new study analyzing four key components of SB23-213 to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and "middle housing" (duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes) in more residential areas, and multi-family housing near transit, commercial, and institutional zones.

"Coloradans are demanding real solutions to our housing crisis, and it is clear that these common sense policies will mean more housing now for every Colorado budget. This transformative legislative package supported by the business community, unions, and environmental advocates was created following years of research on what works, hundreds of meetings, and with input from hundreds of local leaders and key Colorado community leaders. The consequences of inaction are too great," said Gov. Polis.

"Every Coloradan deserves a safe and affordable place to live, and this new data makes clear that our proposal to create a smart, holistic approach that will expand the menu of housing options families and communities are able to choose from is what Colorado needs," said Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City. "Working Coloradans are tired of being priced out of where they live, which is why I am proud to champion this bill that will cut red tape and expand our housing supply to make sure more Colorado families have a place to call home."

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"Colorado urgently needs to address our housing shortage," said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. "Our plan will build more homes now that all Coloradans can afford. By allowing property owners to build ADUs and other more affordable homes, we will substantially increase our housing stock, create jobs, improve our air and lower costs for families. That's why this plan is supported by local elected officials, economic development organizations, housing advocates, workers, and climate champions. We're addressing the housing crisis now by driving down the cost of housing and helping more Coloradans become homeowners in the communities they love."

"Too many Coloradans are getting pushed out of the community they grew up in because of the rising cost of housing, leading to longer commutes," said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. "That's why we're cutting red tape to build more housing around transit hubs, which will reduce air pollution, alleviate traffic congestion, and allow Coloradans to spend more time doing the things they love instead of sitting in their cars. The data shows this plan will increase equity in housing, create jobs, and make it easier for Coloradans of all incomes to find an affordable place to live."

The study, conducted on behalf of CEO in partnership with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) by ECONorthwest and MapCraft Labs, demonstrated a substantial increase in the potential to build new housing in climate-friendly areas, high opportunity areas, and with more efficient home types that use less water and energy.

In assessing the potential impact of four policies in the legislative package on housing, the analysis considered construction costs, market demand, financing, land use policies, and individual parcel characteristics. Housing experts have used this model to analyze policy changes in similar markets. Not all new housing development opportunities identified in the analysis will necessarily be built, but the results are an indication of how much the proposed plan would increase the opportunity to build more housing and help improve housing affordability across Colorado.

"From a climate perspective, this is one of the most important bills the Colorado legislature has ever considered," said Colorado Energy Office Executive Director Will Toor. "Housing policy is key to reducing greenhouse gas pollution from transportation and buildings, and this analysis demonstrates why. Making it possible to build housing that uses less water and energy, in locations where residents can drive less, is critical for reaching our climate goals."

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The study analyzed jurisdictions in three of the state's metro areas: DRCOG (Denver Metro), North Front Range, and the Grand Valley, as well as jurisdictions in the Roaring Fork Valley. As in SB23-213, the policies were only applied within Census urbanized areas, and outside of undeveloped natural and agricultural lands.

Within these case study jurisdictions, compared to a baseline of existing land use policies, the analysis found the policies:
  • Improve housing availability and lower housing costs: A 65% increase in new housing development opportunities while protecting agricultural lands and natural open spaces. Additionally, a major increase in opportunities to build attached housing (duplexes and townhomes) and multifamily housing, which is up to 43% less expensive than detached homes in today's housing stock. Colorado's housing supply has not kept pace with population growth, and the state's housing is currently among the most expensive in the nation. Researchers have identified local land use regulations as a key driver of high housing costs, and that increasing housing supply moderates price increases and improves housing affordability.

  • Increase affordable housing: A 30% increase in new opportunities to build inclusionary affordable housing units in municipalities with existing inclusionary housing ordinances. As communities adopt affordability strategies from the plans outlined in the bill, this could increase as high as 62%.

  • Increase climate and water-efficient housing: A 54% increase in new housing development opportunities that are within walking distance to high quality transit services. The plans outlined in the bill would also substantially increase housing development opportunities for attached housing and multi-family homes, which typically use 22-86% less water than a detached home.

  • Improve equity and access to opportunity: A 77% increase in new housing development opportunities in high-resource communities with better access to jobs and economic mobility, compared to a 10% increase in new housing development opportunities in disadvantaged areas. This data suggests the bill package can improve equity by leveling the playing field and requiring all jurisdictions, and especially jurisdictions with significant amounts of jobs, transit, and resources, to plan for housing for all income levels.

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