In one of the fastest-growing cities in the West, with a population that has jumped by more than 100,000 people in just the last seven years, Denver housing is a painful subject.
Statistics show that the average price of a home in the Mile High City is now at or above $400,000, while average monthly apartment rents are starting at $1,500.
Those numbers daily challenge middle income residents, some of whom ultimately decide that Denver is simply too expensive of a city to stay in.
But Denver city leaders, hosting an annual summit devoted to housing, say they have made progress on an issue that is similarly challenging city officials across the country.
Mayor Michael Hancock, addressing builders, investors, and community leaders attending the conference, officially called “Building Opportunity: A Solutions Forum on Housing,” said the best way to approach the problem is to think big.
Hancock noted that five years ago, Denver set out to build 3,000 new affordable housing units throughout the city, a goal that has since been reached.
That effort was paid for out of a housing fund that currently is dedicating more than $150 million to future housing construction.
Even so, Denver officials acknowledge that despite such progress, some 107,000 households in the city are today categorized as “housing cost-burdened,” meaning that 30 percent of income in those households goes for housing and utility costs.
At the same time, around 51,000 Denver households are regarded as “severely cost burdened,” with more than half of the household’s total income going for housing and utility costs.
Frank Nothaft, chief economist for the Irvine, California-based Lore Logic, a real estate company, said rising home prices, combined with an increase in borrowing costs, could increase the average monthly mortgage note both in Denver and across the country by 20 percent.
“The inventory of homes available for sale in the market is really, really low,” said Nothaft, adding that the home price index nationally may jump by 6 percent between now and 2019, with Denver experiencing a 7 percent increase.
By Garry Boulard
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