COLORADO — In November, voters across Colorado will get to decide on a ballot initiative that would direct a portion of the state’s income taxes to affordable housing projects.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Proposition 123 if passed, would direct .1% of Colorado’s taxable income to a number of programs that include; “helping essential workers, such as teachers and nurses, become homeowners, while financially supporting local governments in increasing the number of affordable homes by 3% every year.”
The campaign for the measure said it could raise around $300 million every year, and build up to 170,000 homes and rental units over two decades. The measure would also give local governments the ability to decide where the money should be spent.
According to recent data from the U.S Census Bureau, Colorado is currently facing a shortage of about 225,000 homes, and supporters of Proposition 123 tell AP, it “could help make up that deficit while avoiding a tax hike.” Proposition 123 is also expected to eat into tax refunds guaranteed under TABOR, and any changes to TABOR must be approved by voters.
“There’s nothing affordable about taking $300 million of our TABOR tax refunds for a flawed housing measure,” said Michael Fields, Senior Adviser for Advance Colorado Action, a conservative advocacy group. Fields added that “nobody really knows how many new units would be created by this measure.”
Advocates believe “the hike in rents and home values brought on by the pandemic will encourage Coloradans of any political party to vote for the initiative.” AP cited a poll from the Colorado Health Foundation, which suggests that 86% of Coloradans say housing costs are a serious concern.
“State by state by state, we can be doing more,” said Julie Gonzales, a Democratic State Senator and backer of the initiative. She added that the federal government needs to step up as well.