A major housing law focused on facilitating private development on properties owned by the state-approved committee Tuesday as Colorado lawmakers work to find solutions to the state’s housing problems this term.
“This bill is a great extension of our efforts to address Colorado’s affordable housing crisis because it addresses one of the biggest barriers to affordable housing construction and that is the cost of land,” said Sen. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat from Avon, told the Senate Local Government and Housing Committee on Tuesday.
“As we seek to continue to improve our access to housing throughout Colorado and reduce housing costs, state-owned land is an important asset to look at,” he said.
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Senate Bill 23-1 would transfer $13 million — $5 million from the general fund and $8 million from the Housing Development Grant Fund — to the Unused State-Owned Real Property Fund to fund public-private partnerships to support those aiming to build affordable housing on state-owned land. owned country. This modest dollar amount would only support a few projects to test the concept.
The bill would authorize the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Collaboration Unit, created by law last year, to broker real estate transactions between the state and developers.
Gov. Polis emphasizes housing needs to Colorado lawmakers
It is sponsored by Roberts and Democratic Senator Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada in the Senate, and Democratic MPs Shannon Bird of Westminster and Meghan Lukens of Steamboat Springs. The Democrats enjoy a sizeable majority in both chambers of the legislature.
The idea of building more housing on state-owned land has been raised several times by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who announced a proof-of-concept project near Vail that includes plans to build 80 housing units for workers on state-owned land, according to the Department of Transportation from Colorado.
Funding from the bill would allow CDOT to clear the land so developers could begin work.
“This is a great way to enable local governments to continue to make their own land use decisions and their own zoning decisions for housing, but free up some land and really bring down the cost of affordable housing projects in their area,” Roberts said.
Housing is typically a matter for local government, and a key anticipated issue for the current legislature is the role government can – and should – play in promoting the development of affordable housing.
“A lot of people are a little gullible about the role of the state government in relation to housing. But I think this is one of those solutions that hits the sweet spot because it allows local governments to still be in the driving seat on these projects and allows the state to be a valuable partner on the part of the puzzle that which is sometimes the most expensive or most problematic,” Zenzinger told the committee.
The bill would not oblige local governments to take action, only allow them to pursue these types of projects.
“If the terms are right for you and we can use the P3 office to bring public-private partnerships together in a way that benefits the community, then that’s great. We will help make this process possible and set some guidelines for it,” she said.
Bruce Eisenhauer, the legislative liaison in the Department of Local Affairs, and Bill Ryan, director of the Colorado State Land Board, supported the bill, using a condominium complex near the Capitol as an example of a successful public-private partnership.
The Land Board leased land to a developer who demolished existing “derelict” buildings and built 103 affordable housing units, using a variety of funding sources to support the project.
“This is just one example of what can be accomplished with this model,” Eisenhower said.
Karen Kallenberg, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Colorado, said one of the biggest obstacles and costs in the organization’s work is the cost of land.
“Now is the time to use the stock (of vacant state land) and put the systems in place to provide more affordable housing. That’s what SB-1 does,” she said. “To meet the demand, we need every possible creative solution.”
Other supporting organizations include the Colorado Municipal League, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Association of Realtors, and the Colorado Chamber of Commerce.
The bill passed the committee 6-1 and now goes to the Appropriations Committee. Republican Senator Byron Pelton of Sterling was the only dissenting vote.