No one knows how many affordable housing units currently exist in Golden, but city officials know it is clear that the city is far short of the affordable housing goals outlined in its most recent …
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According to Golden Planning Manager Rick Muriby, housing is considered affordable if a household is not spending more than 30% of its income on it.
In Golden, a housing unit would be affordable for a household earning 30% of the area median income if it were being rented for $400 a month or sold for $24,000 (for an attached unit). A housing unit would be affordable for a household earning 50% of area median income if it were rented for $700 a month while a unit rented for $1,200 a month would be affordable to a household earning 80% of area median income.
No one knows how many affordable housing units currently exist in Golden, but city officials know it is clear that the city is far short of the affordable housing goals outlined in its most recent comprehensive plan.
That was one of the conclusions that came out of two meetings the Golden Planning Commission held in recent weeks to discuss the affordable housing situation in the city and work toward developing ideas about how the city could improve it.
According to Golden Planning Commissioner Rick Muriby, the city considers housing affordable for a family if they are spending no more than 30 percent of their income on it. The goals in the comprehensive plan call for 15% of housing in Golden to be affordable under that standard for “low-income households” — defined as those earning less than 50 percent of the area median income. Those goals also call for another 15% to be affordable for moderate income households (defined as those earning 50-80% of area median income) and an additional 15% to be affordable to those earning 80-120% of area median income.
”We don’t have those numbers and we would need to do a housing survey to get it but we just can tell from the income relative to the cost of housing that we are nowhere near these numbers,” said Muriby.
What Muriby says he knows for sure, however, is that Golden’s demographic makeup is becoming more heavily weighted toward higher-income earners at the expense of those earning smaller incomes. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of Golden residents earning between $35,000 and $49,999 a year decreased by 19 percent while the number earning $150,000 to $199,000 a year increased by 109 percent.
”So the middle has been eroding and that’s the same income level that has a hard time getting any qualified affordable housing assistance because most of the assistance that is available is for lower-income residents,” Muriby said.
During the meetings, which were held on June 3 and June 17, staff discussed possible options for increasing the amount of affordable housing ranging from allowing unused housing allocations under Golden’s 1% growth cap to roll over from year to year for use for affordable housing units (which did not gain traction with the board), to instituting a lodging tax to support affordable housing. However, the commission ultimately came up with the following recommendations for city staff to research and further develop in preparation for a future recommendation to the city council: Reaching out to Golden’s Urban Renewal Authority and Downtown Development Authority to support affordable housing within their jurisdictions; Evaluate energy efficiency requirement for affordable housing with goal of reducing energy costs as a way to reduce monthly costs and make housing more affordable; Change zoning for existing mobile home parks to specifically reflect a zone district geared to mobile homes and other more affordable housing unit types, such as tiny homes and boarding houses; Conducting an inventory of city-owned land to see where parcels might exist that are suitable for affordable housing to be built; Researching the possibility of creating a linkage fee on developers to pay into a fund to support affordable housing as part of the permit fees for new projects; Researching the possibility of inclusionary zoning requiring that all residential construction projects include a certain number of affordable units.
The commission also discussed who the city should be trying to serve with affordable housing initiatives and determined that such initiatives should try to provide affordable housing to existing Golden residents.
”This is harsh but I think if we are going to put money into buckets for people to have some kind of assistance whether it’s mortgage or rent or whatever that they have to work here and they can’t be somebody who is just coming in from somewhere else,” said commission member Todd Collins.
The commission also discussed whether it should gather more specific data about the availability of affordable housing in Golden. However, the group concluded that while the city should look into conducting studies to gather such data, it had enough information to proceed with some efforts now.
”It’s been said many times that we are not going to solve affordable housing but I think if we can start to help a few families it’s worth it right?” said commission chair John Caskey.
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