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Whats being done about affordable housing in Colorado Springs?

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The latest housing market data shows Colorado is becoming one of the least affordable places to live, and Colorado Springs is no exception. 

"It's pretty hard," Erika Williams said. 

Williams lost her job and home last year. She's a single mom, and she watched her rent go up to the point where she couldn't afford it anymore. 

Now she works two jobs, and just glancing at apartment rents right now, she said "I can't afford it. Just looking at it, I can't afford it."

The latest City of Colorado Springs data shows half of renters and a third of Colorado Springs homeowners are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. 

Those numbers are from 2014, three years ago. Since then the average home sale price has increased more than 20 percent. 

"The demand for affordable housing is rising," Executive Director for Greccio Housing, Lee Patke said. "Rents have risen, employment is good, the economy is good again, so we're getting an influx of people but we've not had the production of the new apartment units built over the last number of years."

Greccio housing is a local non-profit affordable housing organization. Patke said more people have been coming to the non-profit, like Williams, needing an affordable place to live. 

"There just aren't enough," Patke said. 

How did the city get here? It goes back to the 2009 recession. During that time, builders stopped construction, leaving the current hot real estate market with low inventory and many wanting to buy. 

"What they could have bought for a single family a couple of years ago is translated into townhomes," realtor with Home Smart Realty Group, Kristan Rigdon said. 

Meaning home and development prices have gone up right along with it. 

"You're starting to price some of those buyers out of the market," Rigdon said. 

"There's a big difference between what's affordable and what's available for people at different income levels," HUD Program Administrator for the City of Colorado Springs, Steve Posey said.

Posey said the average one bedroom apartment will rent up to $1,100 a month. 

His office has been working with developers to get alternative financing for housing projects to keep rents lower. One of the biggest is utilizing the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit. 

"The City of Colorado Springs is very fortunate to have received a number of those tax credit projects very recently. 

Patke said though, just having cheap rents won't solve the affordable housing crisis. But rather time and significant development are needed to get enough affordable housing options in the city. 

Some options on the horizon for affordable housing for people in Colorado Springs is coming. 

"Once we have the housing stock at affordable rates, we strive to provide affordable services in those units to maintain their housing stability," Patke said. Posey said 600 new affordable apartments will be coming now through the end of 2018. 

 

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