By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge is in Colorado looking for innovative solutions to the affordable housing crisis. She says she has billions of dollars to fund them.

She says the problem is bigger than people want to admit, saying 11 million Americans have no place to live.

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“Where would you be if you didn’t have a place to live?” she asked.

(credit: CBS)

For many Coloradans, that’s not a hypothetical question. In all of Metro Denver last month, there were only 3,100 homes on the market and the median sale price was nearly $650,000.

“There is no place in country today where a person making minimum wage can even afford a two-bedroom apartment.”

Developments like Denver’s Sun Valley and Boulder’s 1175 Lee Hill, she says, are part of the solution. Denver Housing Authority turned prime real estate into 960 affordable apartments and townhomes in Sun Valley.

“If you really want to see what works, meet me in Sun Valley,” Fudge said after touring an apartment in the neighborhood with Mayor Michael Hancock and Congresswoman Diana DeGette.

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She also toured 1175 Lee Hill in Boulder with Congressman Joe Neguse. An apartment complex for the chronically homeless, it’s run by Boulder Housing Partners.

“If we had more of these, maybe on any given night 580,000 people would not sleeping on the street in America.”

(credit: CBS)

The secretary says money is no longer a barrier to building places like these. President Biden is calling for $300 billion for two million new affordable housing units and $55 billion for low-income housing tax credits.

“This is our time. If we don’t do it now, we’re going to lose the opportunity.” She says government alone can’t solve the problem. “We have far too many places that don’t want low-income or moderate people to live in community.”

She is urging compassion and promising action, “We’re not going to change the world overnight, but we are going to change it. I promise you.”

Those changes may include different zoning codes to make building easier and more manufactured homes that, she says, can sell for as little as $100,000. She hopes to unveil a plan in the next 6 months. Meanwhile, Congress is also working on solutions.

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Congressman Neguse has introduced two bills aimed at cutting some of the red tape that makes it difficult to convert properties into affordable housing, “We are at an inflection point and it’s critical that we find creative solutions that meet this moment.”

Shaun Boyd