The Colorado Division of Housing is part of the Department of Local Affairs and was created by statute in 1970 to improve access for all Coloradans to decent, affordable housing. DOH assists local communities in achieving their affordable housing goals, serving an average of 30,000 Colorado households a year. Under the leadership of the Colorado State Housing Board, DOH provides the following services:
- Grants and loans: Provides state and federal funding to private for-profit and not-for-profit housing developers, housing authorities and local governments to increase or preserve the inventory of affordable housing.
- Housing choice vouchers: Provides rental assistance statewide through several local agencies. More than 80 percent of DOH vouchers serve low-income people with disabilities.
- Manufactured structures: Certifies all factory/manufactured structures built in or shipped to Colorado and approves multifamily construction in counties with no construction codes.
- Accessibility modifications: Administers the Medicaid Home Modification program, keeping seniors and people with disabilities in their homes rather than costly nursing homes.
- Housing for the homeless: Provides funding for the continuum of housing needs from emergency shelters and rapid rehousing to permanent supportive housing.
Grants and Loans
DOH is a gap funder. We assist developers in creating more affordable housing through gap funding for acquisition, rehabilitation and new construction. Similar to the private world of finance, a funding gap is the amount of money needed to fund a project or a business that is not covered by cash, equity or debt.
The gap is particularly important for affordable housing because the operating income an owner can achieve is greatly limited by the rent it can charge. For example, 171,933 of households in Colorado make at or below 30 percent of the area median income, according to the State Demographer’s Office. The rent that is affordable to a household at this income is between $354 and $782 (individual and family of four, respectively) compared to $1,638, Zillow’s Rent Index for Colorado as of February.
Funds provided by DOH are leveraged by other sources of private and public funds. DOH estimates that of its approximately $7.9 million awarded for affordable housing projects last year, nearly $187 million will be leveraged, which includes conventional bank financing, bonds, low-income housing tax credits, federal, state and local gap financing, fee waivers and charitable donations. Based on these investments in our housing stock, in just one year, the investments will generate more than $21 million in tax revenue, of which $8.6 million is estimated in state tax revenue alone. (The Urban Institute and National Housing Conference created an online interactive tool to illustrate these essential financing layers at http://apps.urban.org/features/cost-of-affordable-housing/.)
There are many factors impacting rising costs. Most of which are outside of the funders’ control, although still closely monitored. The following addresses two areas DOH is working on to lower project costs through its work.
Streamlining application processes. Approximately 45 percent of DOH contracts are leveraged by LIHTC equity. To lower application costs and reduce the time to prepare applications, DOH partnered with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority to merge our application spreadsheets for applicants to both agencies. Our remaining applicants will continue to use the DOH application.
Eyeing the future of construction. Our society is advancing quickly, with technology rendering traditional construction methods obsolete and then becoming quickly outdated by newer technology. Although there have been advances in construction, such as the growing field of snapping steel grid construction systems, the industry has not yet seen the wide-scale change that others have seen. Factory-built panels and units can offer efficiency through quicker timeframes because site work can be completed while the structures are constructed inside and without having to pay Davis-Bacon wages. The state is working to support this industry while maintaining effective regulatory oversight for public protection. DOH provides plan review/approval and installation inspections for manufactured homes. We are working to streamline these processes to ensure shorter timelines are actualized. This includes a new online payment and inspection system, so the process can be tracked by the state, the local jurisdiction, manufacturers, sellers, installers and even owners of factory-built structures.