Corina Julca

- FOR CITY COUNCIL -

HOUSING

 

As a result of the sharp rise in housing prices, the demographics of Boulder are changing rapidly. It is not an overstatement to refer to this as a crisis. Helping middle-income residents stay in Boulder is one of my main goals. Implementing a net increase in permanently affordable housing constitutes another primary goal. To be clear, the density equals affordability argument is contradicted by the reality of the luxury buildings and homes that have dominated the market in Boulder and other desirable cities in recent years. Rental rates have gone up.

 

Here are some tools I would use:

 

  • Purchase of current market affordable apartment buildings by the City of Boulder: A sizable percentage of lower middle-income residents currently live in privately held rental apartments that offer affordable rents. These buildings are usually on the older side. Much of Boulder’s diversity is found in this type of housing situation. I live with my family in such a building (which, unfortunately is in the Opportunity Zone). The purchase of this type of building often offers better value than new construction. Funding can come from existing city programs.

 

  • Disincentivizing demolition: Boulder is going through widescale demolitions, whether by developers scraping single-family homes, the City planning to destroy the Alpine-Balsam hospital buildings, or large commercial developments. The environmental and social cost of these demolitions and gutting of buildings should be borne by the developer.

 

  • Creating policies built upon data showing the net gain or loss of affordable units: Until now, reports generated by the city have mostly focused on the new permanently affordable units gained through the Affordable Inclusionary Housing program. However, when you look at a case like the Eastpointe Apartments on Arapahoe Avenue, at the outset, before redevelopment, 100% of the units were affordable. The developer was required to pay only 20% towards permanently affordable housing – even less through the cash in lieu program – resulting in a huge net loss of affordable units. To achieve goals, we need to face the facts clearly.

 

  • Tackling the jobs-housing imbalance through rezoning: this topic is on everyone’s lips. There finally appears to be a recognition that commercial zoning in some locations should give way to residential zoning. I discuss the related subject of congestion under Transportation.

 

  • Raising Linkage, Impact and Inclusionary Affordable Housing fees / percentages in the Opportunity Zone: offsetting the tax giveaways in the Opportunity Zone with higher fees will benefit Boulder by providing money for affordable housing, infrastructure, social programs and more. Alternatively, these higher fees would discourage the sort of development that is already causing displacement in opportunity zones across the U.S.

 

  • Onsite permanently affordable housing: I don’t think Boulder wants segregated housing. The cash-in-lieu program, while allowing for federal funding, is exclusionary. The solutions are complex and require trade-offs, but this is a conversation worth having.

 

  • Continuum for affordable housing: Another advantage of developing or purchasing more affordable housing without federal funding would be that the criteria for eligibility, as well as the rents, could be determined by the City of Boulder. This would allow for a greater continuum of support tied to income level, extending into the middle-income range for a group that can no longer afford to live in Boulder.