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Denver City Council Votes To Bring In More Affordable Housing

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DENVER (CBS4)- Denver is being dubbed one of the least affordable places to live if you are a renter and the Denver City Council responded to those claims by trying to bring more affordable housing in.

There is controversy over the ordinance because it applies only to condominiums not apartments or other rental properties. Supporters claim without it new construction would only cater to the wealthy and push poor families out of town.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Savara Sullivan and her two daughters live in a rent-controlled duplex near Denver’s Five Points neighborhood.

“My mom was able to give us the stability, I want to give that to my kids and I want to do that in my house,” said Sullivan.

Renting is all Sullivan could afford but barely. The preschool teacher said she could never buy a home in the only city she’s ever called home.

“It’s just not reachable at this point,” said Sullivan.

Denver City Councilwoman Robin Kniech, representing District 12, drafted the bill.

“Are we going to be that diverse city or are we going to price them out?” asked Kniech.

The ordinance passed by Denver’s city council would mandate builders to set aside 10 percent of a development for affordable housing or seek a developer who could build it. The ordinance also would make violating it more costly.

“I think in most cases it’s going to help us see the units we want,” said Kniech.

Under the current system there is little incentive to build below market value. Developers out of the Spire Building paid $3 million to keep affordable housing out. These new rules raise the buyout an additional 20 percent.

The Downtown Denver Partnership opposed the ordinance. In a letter written to the city council the group stated, “The Board is concerned that the increase will discourage developers from building more modestly-priced housing projects.”

Opponents said they don’t believe money raised by a higher buyout would even go to affordable housing and suggested a different route to find more funding.

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