While much of the discussion of affordable housing in Colorado focuses on how state and local governments can encourage the development of more affordable housing, less attention is paid to our state’s existing stock of low-cost rental housing units and how housing policies can encourage the preservation of rental housing that is already affordable to most renters in the state. With inspiration from a blog from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS)
looking at this trend nationally, we examine changes in the stock of low-cost rental units in Colorado between 2010 and 2019. We also look at the types of rental housing that were most likely to be low-cost rentals, as well as a select economic characteristics of renters who lived in these housing units in 2019.
Here we follow the JCHS’s definition of “low-cost” as rental units that had a monthly contract rent below $600. Rents below $600 would be affordable to renter households with annual incomes up to $24,000 in 2019. Approximately 23.0% of Colorado renter households had annual household incomes below $24,000 that same year. Using a more familiar metric in affordable housing parlance, $24,000 was equivalent to approximately 25.9 percent of area median income (AMI) in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area for a household of four and 36.9 percent of AMI for a household of one.