COLORADO SPRINGS – The City of Colorado Springs has published “HomeCOS, Housing Our Future,” a plan for addressing affordable and attainable housing issues in our community.
In his 2018 State of the City speech, Mayor Suthers challenged the community to build, preserve and create opportunities to purchase one thousand units of affordable housing each year for the next five years. “HomeCOS, Housing Our Future” is the City’s comprehensive affordable and attainable housing plan to support that goal.
“This effort is meant to be an affordable and obtainable housing plan for the whole city,” Steve Posey, the City of Colorado Springs Community Development Division Manager said. “There is not one part of the city as opposed to another that we are focusing on. It is a citywide effort.”
The City’s Community Development Division developed this plan with robust community engagement. Community Development received over 3,600 survey responses from every ZIP code in the City. Community Development staff also did extensive research on housing conditions locally and across the state. Some of the key findings include:
- Home ownership is still the long-term goal for the vast majority of residents, regardless of income
- All age groups are affected by rising housing costs
- Besides cost, application barriers (fees, credit, background checks, and past evictions) and voucher denial are the biggest barriers to housing for very low-income residents
- Access to decent, safe, affordable housing improves outcomes for kids
- Housing development is critical to long-term economic vitality
Because of these and other features specific to the housing market in Colorado Springs, HomeCOS includes the following core objectives:
1. Reduce homelessness through a housing-first approach
2. Increase the supply of affordable rentals
3. Increase homeownership opportunities
4. Housing for the aging & disabled population
5. Innovative design & development opportunities
6. Alternative financing
The City encourages collaboration among all partners, elected officials, and other stakeholders to accomplish the plan’s goals. In particular, the City’s role is to build the community support needed to increase production of affordable rentals, increase homeownership opportunities, and house the most vulnerable. By matching housing needs to available resources, the City will work with the development community and local housing agencies to realize the objectives brought forward in HomeCOS.
“We need more housing in our community that matches our local pay scales,” Posey explained. “If you work here, you should be able to find a home that you can afford. With this plan and our collaborative partners, we are committed to meeting the mayor’s goal of creating 1,000 more affordable housing units per year in Colorado Springs.”
Progress toward the Mayor’s goal this year includes ground-breaking on over 800 affordable rental units, increased access to down-payment assistance programs, and completion of a 2nd permanent supportive housing project for homeless veterans.
“Our housing costs have gone up quite a bit faster than household incomes,” Posey added. “We’ve seen the average rent for an apartment here in Colorado Springs shoot up by over 70% since 2011. At the same time we’ve seen home prices go up by over 60%. Household income by comparison has only risen about 10%. So when you get that big of a miss-match between housing costs and household income you’ve got an affordability problem. That’s what this plan is meant to address.”
Many interested stakeholders contributed to HomeCOS, including non-profit housing providers and social service agencies, members of the local development community, and Planning and Community Development staff. The City is grateful to all contributors and survey participants.