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Gov. Polis directs Colorado government to address housing affordability

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(The Center Square) – Colorado’s housing shortage is at a critical stage, according to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, and he ordered state agencies to make changes to help solve the problem.

“Colorado is at a crossroads, we can take action to help create more housing now or we can go the way of California where home prices are upwards of $1 million,” Polis said in a statement accompanying an executive order on Monday. “The choice is clear: Coloradans want a rejection of the status quo, which is why I am taking the actions that I can within my authority to streamline and speed up approval and ensure the government is not a barrier to housing being built while helping save people money.”

The six-page declaration provided 10 goals for the state, including incentivizing development with climate and air quality goals, addressing water challenges, discouraging sprawl, expanding public transit and transportation infrastructure, improving state processes and increasing economic growth and mobility.

“Colorado must have more housing that people can afford in the state, especially for families, our seniors looking to downsize, for our businesses looking to grow and hire workers, and for the next generation and it’s going to take all of us working together to help achieve these goals,” the governor said.

Polis ordered state agencies to inventory policies, plans, procedures and regulations regarding support for local governments, regional government councils and metropolitan planning groups. He ordered a report of all grants, loan programs and additional funding programs for housing, transportation, economic development and water infrastructure/conservation. He also directed state agencies to work with his office to develop a formal and measured method for stakeholder feedback.

“Working hand in hand with communities and the legislature, we can secure a Colorado that is livable, sustainable, and affordable,” Polis wrote in the order. “Neither the state nor local governments should be a barrier to housing development and state programs must support and align with the state’s strategic growth goals.”

During the legislative session, Democrats introduced a 105-page housing bill with the governor’s support to overhaul the state’s land-use laws with the intention of increasing affordable housing. The Colorado Municipal League opposed the legislation, arguing it would remove the authority of the state’s local governments. After passing in the House, Senate Bill 23-213 stalled in the Senate.

A wide range of state and local officials and nonprofit groups are supporting the governor’s new order.

“State competitiveness data we’ve collected shows that Colorado has one of the highest housing costs compared to other states,” said Colorado Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Loren Furman. “It’s critical that all tools in the toolbox are used to reduce the housing shortage and affordability crisis that Colorado is experiencing.”

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