Colorado Springs, Pueblo leaders tackle affordable housing crisis

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SOUTHERN COLORADO — Thousands of Coloradans risked losing their homes with the eviction moratorium ending on July 31, 2021, in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets.

Governor Jared Polis signed a COVID-19 Disaster Recovery Order to help give families more time. Evictions will be extended 30 days beginning August 1. Also, if tenants have pending rental assistance, it puts a pause on potential evictions.

“If I had applied a couple of days ago, I wouldn’t be getting money in 30 days, but the fact that I can show my landlord I did apply, money should be coming puts a pause on that eviction and hopefully can keep people housed without having to completely continue the eviction moratorium,” El Paso County Economic Development Housing Analyst Eric Leonard said.

El Paso County, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo all have different ways of tackling the affordable housing crisis. Mayor John Suthers’s goal for the City of Colorado Springs is to add 1,000 affordable housing units each year.

“We don’t intend to slack off on that goal anytime in the near future because we need the housing,” Colorado Springs Community Development Division Manager Steve Posey said.

El Paso County is pushing for more affordable housing as well.

“We have 6 different projects that will be opening up within the next 12 months that will total 650 units,” Leonard said.

The county said making Elegante Hotel into additional 600 housing units is still in the development stage.

“There is more affordable housing production going on right now than there has been in well over a decade,” Posey added.

Pueblo Housing Authority said they’re renovating many old apartments for low-income housing, but they don’t have much affordable housing despite a long waiting list.

“They need to be able to afford something that’s affordable to them, based on their income,” Housing Authority of the City of Pueblo Executive Director Frank Pacheco said. “I don’t know how we get that down, but maybe in the future we can sit down as a group and talk about how we buy land, how we get funding sources to build new – for new people, that may not be in public housing.”

A new housing project spearheaded by Fuel and Iron will be completed in April providing 28 units for the Steel City. This project is being developed at the former Holmes Hardware Building located at 400 S. Union Avenue.

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs hopes a boost in affordable housing will also help get nearly 300 homeless people in stable homes.

“We need 150-200 more what are called, ‘permanent supportive housing apartment units,’ and we could really make a dent in ending chronic homelessness in our community,” Posey added.

El Paso County offers a down payment assistance program called Turnkey Plus Program. Since February 15, 2019, the Turnkey Plus Program by the EPCHA has offered a $5,523,735 in down payment assistance to 424 El Paso County homeowners.

For rental assistance call United Way at 2-1-1.

According to the state, 63% of households earning 30% or less of the area median income in Pueblo County spend over 50% of their income on housing. Households earning 30% or less of the area median income in Pueblo County make up 16% of the total households in the county.

An estimated 70% of households in El Paso County with incomes at and below 30% of the area median income pay over 50% of their income towards housing costs (rent or mortgage).  Households at and below 30% AMI make up about 11% of all households in El Paso County.

The income threshold that households have for each percentage of AMI can be found here, it varies depending on household size and county of residence. For example, it shows that a family of 3 would have to earn $22,250 or less to be classified as 30% AMI in El Paso County in 2021.

The state collected the above data from surveys over the course of five years.

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