ENDORSEMENT — PROP 123: Vote ‘no’ on an affordable housing plan that needs to be rewritten

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Not only do Colorado voters decide on the deciders during this year’s large and varied midterm 2022 election, they play legislators, too.

Colorado regularly offers voters a chance to create policy and law from the ballot box. This year’s variety of proposals is no exception.

Here’s a part of a series of Sentinel Colorado Editorial Board recommendations to voters for this year.

PROP 123: Vote ‘no’ on an affordable housing plan that needs to be rewritten

Few things threaten all of us in Colorado like the untenable cost of housing, but Proposition 123 isn’t the right solution.

An exploding population of homeless people and those facing homelessness — as the cost of living and housing spiral far beyond meager salaries —  jeopardizes all of Colorado.

Apartment and rental-house owners have repeatedly increased rent far outside of market norms, a result the market, flooded with newcomers to the state, has allowed them to do it.

The race from across the country to enjoy Colorado’s success has pushed up the price of home purchases, trailer lot rentals and lured vast amounts of investment cash to the region to push housing prices even higher.

The result is huge pressure on businesses to raise salaries, pushing inflation rates even higher. The most catastrophic danger would be even more widespread homlessness and vast communities where only relatively wealthy people and families can live. It pushes poorer people far from urban areas and into substandard living conditions. 

Even those with stable housing, and even luckier homeowners paying reasonable mortgages boasting huge amounts of equity, will suffer from this dangerous housing cost trend. You can be certain that a community that is too expensive for restaurant workers, health workers, road workers and teachers to live in will struggle deeply for all of those employees.

But simply handing communities large sums of money won’t fix this structural problem, and it could make it worse.

If Aurora were to win $10 million in state grants for rental subsidies, helping take the edge off of bloated tenant rental fees, it would only perpetuate a market where apartment and housing renters are already gouging residents. The state’s hard-to-come-by cash would simply end up in the pockets of exploitative rental companies, encouraging them to raise rents even higher.

Grants to help with down payments on homes, helping people qualify for mortgages, will be virtually useless when mortgage interest rates approach 10%. Mortgages at that rate, on hugely expensive homes, are useless when so many families without vast sums of cash or huge incomes can’t possibly qualify such loans.

In places like Aurora, large tracts of land acquisition to create stable mobile home communities, or lifetime land leases for community housing projects could help, but only for relatively few people.

There’s no doubt the state and local communities have important roles in addressing Colorado’s growing housing crisis, but Prop 123 is a bad way to address this serious problem.

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