Today, Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bethany Pray provided testimony for Senate Bill 24-093, Continuity of Health-Care Coverage Change. CCLP is in support of SB24-093.
CCLP Policy Fellow, Milena Castañeda testified at the Medical Services Board meeting regarding emergency rules for the NEMT.
Chaer Robert provided testimony against House Bill 24-1065, Reduction of State Income Taxes. CCLP is in opposition of HB24-1065.
Pro-Tenant Bills in the 2023 Legislative Session, Part 2
This is the second of two articles related to the Pro-Tenant Bills in the 2023 Legislative Session. To read Part 1, please click here.
These protections on their own cannot fully protect renters from being displaced when their rent increases beyond their means to pay. HB23-1115 Repeal Rent Control Prohibition would help renters by allowing local governments to adopt new tools to help stabilize rents and maintain the affordability of naturally occurring affordable housing (or NOAH). These policies have been shown to slow the displacement of low-income families and families of color. According to a recent report from United for a New Economy (UNE) and the Colorado Fiscal Institute (CFI), a study of rent stabilization policies in California cities found that Los Angeles experienced a 37% decrease in the number of renters who moved, with even greater declines for Black and Latinx renters. In Santa Monica, rent stabilization led to a doubling of the proportion of tenants living in their unit for more than five years. Looking at Colorado, the gross median rent paid by a renter household increased by an average annual rate of 4.4% between 2019 and 2021, according to the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Survey. Over this same period, the median income for a renter household increased by 1.2% per year. This data shows that, without a major increase in the incomes of renter households, rent stabilization policies will be powerful tools for ensuring the growth of rents in our state does not outpace the ability of Colorado renters to pay.
While rent stabilization can be an effective policy for helping tenants by slowing the rate rents can go up at the end of their lease, this policy does not have the direct effect of lowering a tenant’s rent. For instance, if a tenant is already paying 50% of their income towards housing costs, a rent stabilization policy might help keep rental costs from going up too fast, but it does not bring the rent down to an affordable level (i.e., where the household spends 30% or less of their income on housing). This speaks to the need to increase the supply of affordable housing in Colorado, particularly for households at the lowest end of the area median income (AMI) spectrum. And the needs at this end of the AMI spectrum are extreme. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s analysis of 2020 5-year ACS microdata found that for every 100 extremely low-income renter households (households with incomes at or below 30% of AMI), there were only 29 affordable units available in Colorado. For very low-income households (households within incomes of 50% of AMI or below), there were only 49 units for every 100 renter households.
Besides the funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Proposition 123, HB23-1190 Affordable Housing Right of First Refusal will give local governments the option to expand their stock of housing affordable to moderate and low-income Coloradans. For properties within their jurisdictions, the bill gives local governments the opportunity to have the first pass to buy any multifamily or mixed-use property with five or more units in urban counties or three or more units in rural counties put up for sale. Qualifying properties would also include any property that is currently supported by public funds and is subject to one or more restricted-use covenant, such as housing built through the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. Properties purchased in this way must remain affordable to households under specific AMI levels, depending on the county, and for a period of 100 years. Local governments may assign its right of first refusal to the state, to any political subdivisions, or to any housing authority in the state so long as they follow the same commitments to using the property as long-term affordable housing. Local governments may also partner with non-profit organizations to finance the purchase of any property that comes up for sale in their jurisdiction.
In addition to providing an overview of the pro-tenant bills under consideration at the legislature this year, we hope this overview of bills also demonstrates how important it is to address our state’s housing crisis from many different angles and through a diversity of strategies. No one solution will be the perfect fix for all our housing challenges, and oftentimes, the effectiveness of one policy can be strengthened with another, such as pairing legal representation of tenants in eviction court with policies that make it easier for tenants to attend court remotely, or by preventing our state’s rental housing prices from skyrocketing beyond the reach of low-income tenants while funding the purchase of existing or construction of new units that are affordable to renters on the lower end of the AMI spectrum.
Colorado Center on Law and Policy supports all the bills highlighted in this post and applauds our partners who are leading the charge on these efforts. We encourage our supporters to contact their legislators to urge them to support these pro-tenant bills. Not sure who represents you in the Colorado House of Representatives or Senate? The General Assembly has a tool that allows you to look-up your legislators using your address: https://leg.colorado.gov/find-my-legislator. You can also use the links below to check the latest status of each of these bills, including when and where the bill will be heard in a committee.
- HB23-1186 Remote Participation in Residential Evictions
- HB23-1120 Eviction Protections for Residential Tenants
- HB23-1115 Repeal Rent Control Prohibition
- HB23-1190 Affordable Housing Right of First Refusal