Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Affordable housing solutions in the works at the state level

More than 80 stakeholders participating, including Gunnison County

By Cayla Vidmar

Gunnison County commissioner John Messner hopes his work with a new state group will result in better affordable housing opportunities in the county.

At the Board of County Commissioners meeting on December 18, Messner shared with his fellow board members his work in the state stakeholder conversation for affordable/workforce housing solutions. The goal is to “develop a package of legislation to introduce during the 2019 state legislative session,” says Messner.

“Having watched over 40 bills get introduced to the state legislature regarding housing over the last two sessions, and get killed,” Messner writes via email, “our hope was to convene a group of legislators and stakeholders to have in-depth conversation and collaboration.”

By convening this large group, Messner hopes to create a package of legislation that has the support to pass, and be effective in addressing affordable and workforce housing challenges that “are occurring statewide.”

The group is comprised of more than 80 stakeholders from across the state of Colorado, including state and local government, private developers, major employers and social service non-profits, to name a few.

According to a work group email, the stakeholders participated in two meetings this fall to develop “a path forward on housing solutions for Colorado.” This “path forward” is comprised of six subgroups, which will work on different affordable housing solutions. These subgroups include: high level state planning structure; additional state funding; employer contribution first-time homebuyer program; employer role in housing solutions; affordable housing tax credits; and flexible funding, opportunities and incentives for developers.

Messner will sit on the high-level state group, which will plan structure, flexible funding and opportunities and incentives for developers’ subgroups moving forward.

“Affordable and workforce housing is an issue that affects the entire state, yet the possible solutions and impacts are different from community to community,” says Messner. He says that while there is work being done on the local level, “I felt it was also critical to develop resources and solutions at the state level as well. It will ultimately take a comprehensive approach from private developers and employers, local, state and federal government and non-profits and foundations to find solutions to this ongoing challenge,” concludes Messner.

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