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Among households with the lowest incomes, there are twice as many households as there are affordable rental units in Colorado. According to a report released today by the Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing, there are 49 rental units affordable to every 100 households that earn $20,000 or less per year. The report assumes that households earning $20,000 can afford a monthly rent payment of $500, or 30 percent of monthly income.
According to the report, there are 43 affordable rental units for every 100 households earning $15,000 or less per year, and 53 units for every 100 households at an income of $10,000 or less. However, for households making $40,000 per year, there are 102 rental units for every 100 households.
“The greatest challenges in affordable housing are at the lowest income levels,” said Pat Coyle, Director of the Colorado Division of Housing. “The market is doing well at housing families with moderate incomes, but a large number of families with very low incomes in Colorado are paying much more than they can afford for housing.”
In the report, units are deemed affordable if the household pays 30 percent or less of monthly income to rent.
The availability of affordable rental units varied across the state. In the metro Denver area, there were 42 units affordable to every 100 households earning $10,000 or less, and 38 units affordable for each 100 households earning $20,000 or less. Affordable rentals were more accessible in the Mesa County area where there were 58 units affordable to households earning $10,000 or less, and 46 units affordable to households earning $20,000 or less.
For households earning $35,000 in all areas except the Mesa County region, there were at least 100 units affordable to every 100 households. In the Mesa County region there were 84 units for every household earning $35,000.
“We see such a mismatch at the low end of the income scale because it’s really not feasible for developers to construct market rate rental housing that can serve households making $15,000 per year. The cost of construction and land is too high.” said Ryan McMaken a spokesman with the Division of Housing. “The subsidized housing produced and owned by non-profits and housing authorities closes the gap somewhat, but overall there aren’t very many units available to very low-income households.”
The report also listed rent burden statistics for 25 counties in Colorado. Households are rent burdened when paying more than 30 percent of income toward housing. Some counties showed large numbers of renter households paying more than 50 percent of income toward housing. In Teller County, 35.5 percent of renters were paying more than 50 percent of income toward rent, while in Eagle County, almost 31 percent of renters were paying more than 50 percent. Counties on the eastern plains showed the lowest rent burdens with Morgan County and Logan County with only 10 percent and 7 percent of renters paying more than 50 percent of income toward rent, respectively.