Report: Coloradans working longer to pay rent, mortgages due to housing challenges



(The Center Square) – Coloradans are working longer to pay rent and mortgages as housing continues to be a challenge in the state, according to new research from the Common Sense Institute.

“It’s not just the cost of a mortgage that has Coloradans working more, it’s also skyrocketing property taxes, increased utility bills and rising insurance rates,” DJ Summers, director of policy and research for the organization, said in a statement announcing its new report. “This is absolutely one of the biggest issues facing Coloradans and lawmakers.”

In February, the organization published in-depth housing studies in Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction. In January, it published a “Homebuyers Misery Index,” which placed Colorado last in a ranking of 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The April Colorado Housing Competitiveness index, written and compiled by Summers and CSI Senior Economist Steven Byers, revealed the state declined from a 61 rating in 2011 to 56 last year, with values closer to 100 showing high competitiveness. The report said the drop was due to large home price and rent increases relative to other states.

Plus, residential construction permits increased in recent years but failed to keep up with population growth between 2011 and 2023.

“Housing affordability is one of the biggest challenges facing the state and with good reason,” Byers said. “Colorado ranks dead last in the U.S. for housing competitiveness and dead last for renter affordability.”

The report found the average number of work hours necessary to afford an average rent is higher in Colorado than in any other state in the country and the number of hours of work required to pay monthly rent rose from 45 hours in 2011 to 87 in 2023. The average number of hours required to pay an average monthly mortgage increased from 44 hours in 2011 to 96 hours in 2023 – a 118% increase.

In addition to rent and mortgages, substantial increases in property taxes were addressed in the report.

“These will make home ownership more expensive and will force landlords to pass on the increases to tenants,” according to the report. “It is not clear how Colorado’s housing issues will improve unless meaningful reforms are enacted. In recent years, there has been an emphasis on what state policymakers can do to address the problem. Since housing development is primarily influenced by local governments via zoning and land-use measures, however, state policy has been mostly limited to funding for low-income housing and similar programs.”

The report noted how local governments proposed rent caps, short-term rental restrictions and allowed a higher density of development as partial solutions.

“Many of these approaches are far inferior to free market solutions and should be considered warily,” the report stated.

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