One of the bills that Colorado Poverty Law Project was most excited to support this year, House Bill 1190, is a first-of-its-kind legislation that would provide local governments with a more reasonable chance to purchase apartments as affordable housing.
The issue this bill addresses is straightforward, but it requires a public policy correction: local government and housing authorities are trying to purchase and provide affordable housing, but they aren’t able to compete in the current market. When apartments are up for sale, they’re often purchased by corporate hedge funds, sign unseen without inspections or appraisals, and with cash, often in a week or less. These investors can do this because they raise rents by anywhere from 25-50%, immediately, and steadily higher in years to follow. This, in turn, contributes to evictions, displacement, loss of community connections, gentrification, and housing segregation.
The beautiful balance struck in this bill is that it addresses a market deficiency, but also preserves fundamental property rights. This bill ultimately leaves a property owner in the driver’s seat, and it’s considerably less intrusive than other governmental powers, such as eminent domain.
Under this bill, a property owner never has to sell unless they want to, or for a penny less than they want to—there’s nothing involuntary required. This legislation simply allows local governments to match the best offer a seller deems acceptable. It would empower mission-minded entities with a reasonable chance to compete in today’s market-- a chance to provide Coloradans with long term and deeply affordable housing.
We thank the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Faith Winter, Sen. Sonya Jacquez Lewis, Rep. Andrew Boesenecker and Rep. Emily Sirota, and we thank Governor Polis for his consideration of signing this bill into law.