By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)– A first-of-its-kind study says Colorado’s affordable housing crisis is reaching a breaking point and a statewide building code is needed. Last month, in all of the Denver metro area, only 2,075 homes were for sale – a record low – while the average sale price hit a record high of $700,000.

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“We are at an extreme crisis point,” says Peter LiFari, executive director of Maiker Housing Partners.

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He joined forces with Evelyn Lim – former regional HUD administrator – to come up with solutions.

She’s Republican. He’s Democrat. Together, they produced what they call a Blueprint for Transformational Change in Colorado’s housing market.
It’s the product of dozens of interviews with housing experts across the state and months of research on solutions across the country.

It comes as Colorado receives more than a half-billion in federal stimulus dollars for affordable housing – a golden opportunity to enact real change.

LiFari says, “We have to figure out how to get homes built quicker, safer and deliver them in a time period that doesn’t take 2-3 years on average.”

The report calls for statewide or regional building, zoning, and design codes to streamline the process, expedite development, and increase economies of scale.

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“Right now, there are so many barriers to entry and the costs are so significant because each locality is different,” says LiFari.

A lack of affordable land, he says, is another barrier. The report recommends turning empty parking lots into housing developments and encouraging governments and school districts to donate their vacant land. It also recommends rethinking the types of homes we build and make Colorado a hub for the modular building industry.

Lim says, “There really is no difference in appreciation for an offsite built home versus an onsite built home. They’re beautiful.”

Lim and LiFari say the state will need to add more than 54,000 homes every year for the next five years to meet demand and we’ll need 6,500 more tradespeople every year for the next six years to build all the homes.

Anti-growth policies, LiFari says, should be outlawed statewide, “Depopulation is not a strategy. It’s a capitulation and it is an abandonment of our fellow Coloradans.”

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Lim and LiFari will be releasing their report Friday at a panel discussion by Common Sense Institute: https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/eggs-housing-affordability-homelessness/

Shaun Boyd