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Proposed policy would prioritize access to affordable housing in Denver

The policy would prioritize Denver residents who are at risk of displacement or have already been displaced.

DENVER, Colo — A new proposed policy from Denver's Department of Housing Stability would prioritize access for Denver residents pushed out of the city because of costs. 

Right now, about 115,000 Denver households (35%) are cost-burdened, according to HOST. That means those residents are spending more than one-third of their income on housing. 

The goal of the policy is to help residents who have deep roots in Denver and are struggling with the rising costs of housing, or have been involuntarily displaced.

It would set aside 30% of newly built projects and newly preserved affordable housing units. It applies to both rental units and owned homes. Supportive housing, which serves people experiencing homelessness, is exempt from the policy.

HOST is planning to bring the policy to the Denver city council sometime this summer. They are planning to get more community feedback before then.

They are hoping to have 7,000 new affordable housing units available within the next five years.

Eligibility requirements

The window to apply under the prioritization policy for a unit would be 14 days, according to HOST. If there are multiple applicants who qualify, they will give priority to applicants with the highest score. If no qualified applicants apply within 14 days, the units will be released to the general public.

Applicants must have been displaced or at risk of displacement between 2000 and today. People can also apply if a family member was displaced from Denver between 1939 and 2000. Two pieces of evidence must be shown to qualify, including:

  • Rent or mortgage is more than 40% of household income
  • Renters must move because the unit is being sold
  • Renters must move because the property owner is moving into the unit
  • No-cause evictions
  • Evictions for non-payment of rent
  • Foreclosure
  • Costly code violation
  • Redlined neighborhood
  • Eminent domain

Scoring system prioritization list

If multiple applicants apply to the same affordable housing unit, priority goes to the applicant with the highest score based on the following criteria: 

  • Is/was a Denver resident for five to nine continuous years (10 points)
  • Is/was a Denver resident for 10 to 14 continuous years (5 points)
  • Is/was a Denver resident for 15 to 20 continuous years (5 points)
  • Displaced or at risk of displacement from a neighborhood for at least five years where an affordable housing development is being built (5 points)
  • Has generational ties to a neighborhood where a parent, grandparent or guardian was displaced (5 points)
  • Currently in non-secure housing (living with friends, hotels, etc.) or experiencing homelessness (3 points)
  • Applicant or member of the household has a disability (2 points)
  • The household has children eligible to be in Denver Public Schools (2 points)

If the policy passes, it would create an easy-to-use website for people to find available homes. Qualified applicants would be able to set up notifications when preferred units become available.

RELATED: State hotline sees increase in calls from people looking for affordable housing

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