Housing stability means a lot of things to a lot of people. For HOST, housing stability means ensuring people aren’t forced to move because they can no longer afford their home or to live in the neighborhood of their choice. It means families being able to remain in the places they have long called home and where their support networks are, even through one of life’s disruptions. It means our residents can afford to live in homes that are safe and livable. It means children don’t have to attend a different school because their family had no choice but to move to another neighborhood in order to afford housing.
More than 115,000 Denver households pay too much for housing, challenging this foundation and placing them at risk of frequent moves, needing to stay with family or friends, and even homelessness.
Denver has experienced significant growth over the past decade. While this has brought prosperity for some, it has made it harder for many to continue to call Denver home and remain in their communities of choice. Overall, Denver has added 45,000 higher income households between 2010 and 2019. At the same time, Denver now has 10,500 fewer lower-income households. We want to ensure that, going forward, any loss of lower-income households is because people are earning more – not because people left who didn’t want to.
Citywide, rents and mortgages are increasing dramatically, and incomes are not keeping up. More affordable neighborhoods that have been home to communities of color – after decades of racial segregation and redlining – are now susceptible to gentrification and involuntary displacement.
Our community has told us time and again that gentrification, and the resulting involuntary displacement of residents, is a major and growing area of concern. And yet, nationwide, few best practices exist for how to accurately measure, track and analyze involuntary displacement. As such, HOST will build capacity to survey residents and measure when and where involuntary displacement is happening, to whom, why, and what we need to do to stop it.
The COVID-19 pandemic made the safety of a stable home paramount, and it concurrently made it even harder for many residents to continue to afford their housing. Throughout the pandemic, eviction moratoria and mortgage forbearance programs have helped to stave off a wave of evictions and foreclosures. However, more than 250,000 Coloradans report being behind on their rent and mortgage payments. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Housing Stability has known that one of its most important tasks is to stabilize people in our community who are at risk of involuntary displacement and help them avoid falling into crisis and potentially homelessness. As we begin to recover from the public health emergency, it is more important than ever that we create the housing stability necessary for households to build on.