Despite Creative Approaches, Study Says Denver Comes Up Short In Affordable Housing

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<p><span style="color: #999d9b; font-family: proxima-nova, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; text-align: right;">(Photo: iStockphoto)</span></p>
<p>While creative in its approaches, a new report says Denver hasn&#039;t been able to keep up with its need for affordable housing.</p>
Photo: Urban Institute Report (1)
While Denver's population has continued to grow, a new study says the supply of available housing hasn't kept pace.

Denver's population is booming. But its stock of affordable housing hasn't kept pace. Consider this: the city grew by 23 percent between 2000 and 2015. But housing supply has only increased by 17 percent. According to the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focusing on economic and social policy, this hits lower- and middle-income folks especially hard.

As part of a study that also looked at Miami and Austin, Texas, the institute reported that while Denver has been a national leader in its approach to affordable housing, with initiatives like an affordable housing trust fund, there are still concerns with issues like the displacement of families, as well as the shortage of available units.

Diana Elliott, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

Conversation Highlights With Diana Elliott

On Changing Neighborhoods:

"Neighborhoods that were once LMI (low- to middle-income) strongholds (e.g., Five Points and Whittier) have gentrified in the last 15 years, and longtime residents may be left out of the prosperity. Many neighborhoods in the Lower Downtown area have changed, and residents there have higher income and are more highly educated than was the case 15 years ago."

On Pressure Renters Face:

"Rental cost burdens, households paying 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs, have increased from 2000 to 2015 for very low–income (VLI) and LMI families (60 to 82 percent among VLI households and 7 to 26 percent among LMI households). In the Belcaro neighborhood, rental cost burden for LMI families increased from 46 to 77 percent from 2000 to 2015. Renters in Denver are feeling a housing-cost squeeze."

On The North Denver Neighborhood Of Globeville:

"The data and stakeholder information suggest that Globeville is a neighborhood for immediate LMI housing preservation. Given its current low housing costs, large stock of naturally occurring affordable housing, existing LMI population, and considerable planned economic development and a light rail station to be opened this year, the neighborhood could be on the cusp of gentrification."