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Colorado Senate approves bill to provide more funding for middle-class housing development program

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – The Colorado Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that seeks to bolster middle-class housing developments as rent continues to climb across the state. 

If passed, Senate Bill 22-146 would allocate $25 million to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority’s Middle-Income Access Program for expansion. The state program is designed to help families and individuals with incomes that are too high to qualify for income-restricted housing but are too low to afford market-rate units. 

“Coloradans across the state are struggling to afford a place to live, and the time to act is now,” said Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, one of the bill's sponsors. “This bill will improve support systems for middle income families whose modest resources squeeze them between skyrocketing housing costs and ineligibility for assistance, save people money, and help more Colorado families thrive.”

The bill, which had bipartisan support in the Senate, now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

Housing affordability has become a significant topic for state lawmakers this session. Before the 2022 session convened, lawmakers on the Affordable Housing Transformation Task Force published a plan to spend more than $450 million that Colorado received under the federal American Rescue Plan Act to address the state’s housing issues. 

The report found that middle-income families and individuals – which are defined as those earning between 60 percent and 120 percent of an area’s median income – cannot afford rent in the state. 

Meanwhile, rent prices keep climbing despite the Denver metro area’s rising vacancy rate. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, rent has increased by 6.5 percent year-over-year in the Denver metro area. 

The Apartment Association of Metro Denver found that

The metro’s apartment vacancy rate grew from 3.7 percent to 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to a Apartment Association of Metro Denver survey.