Trust Fund Update
Bill Myers, Affordable Housing Issue Liaison
Rocky Mountain Chapter, Air Quality Chair
Challenge to Sprawl Campaign Committee priority campaign member
The creation of affordable housing, defined as housing
consuming no more than 30% of a family’s income, has been a continued Sierra
Club national and chapter priority for several years. Providing affordable housing is the number one priority of the
U.S. Conference of Mayors, and is being addressed nationally by the Sierra Club
National Housing Trust Fund legislation sponsored by Sen.
John Kerry (Mass) and Rep. Bernard Sanders (Vt). Both Rep. Udall and Rep. DeGette are cosponsors of this
legislation, while the rest of Colorado’s congressional delegation remains
opposed to creating this housing trust fund.
Affordable housing provides connections to transit, builds
communities, and reduces air and water pollution from long work and lifestyle
commutes, and provides major environmental benefits. Currently, more than 80% of the teachers in Douglas County cannot
afford to live in their county. On the
west slope, counties such as Lake (Leadville) have more than 70% of their
population commute to jobs outside their county (usually Breckenridge and Vail)
creating greater air and water pollution, excess need for roads, and community
stresses caused by long commutes.
What’s New and Old about Affordable Housing
A 39 member coalition of conservation, community
redevelopment, housing groups, faith-based and progressive organizations have
united since 2000 to form the Colorado Affordable Housing Trust Fund
coalition. The goal is a $15 million
statewide affordable housing trust that will provide housing for people earning
up to 80% of area median income ($48K in the metro Denver area). The Sierra
Club sits as a member of the Steering Committee of this organization.
Legislative Success – Governor’s Vetoes
Housing advocates and the Sierra Club
failed and succeeded last session.
Sierra Club testified in favor of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, but this
bill died in House Appropriations. The
Sierra Club testified in favor of creation of a Metropolitan Affordable Housing
District. This bill was defeated in the
House. Later in the session, due to
Sierra Club/Colorado Coalition of the Homeless’s lobbying efforts, it was
re-introduced by Sen. Rob Hernandez in the Senate, where it passed with wide
bipartisan support. It died in the
House Local Government committee, with Rep. Glenn Scott (R-Wtr)) casting the
deciding negative vote.
The one success was a baseline increase of the Division of
Housing’s budget from $2.6 million to $2.9 million. This divided the legislature during the budget debate. Governor Owens had supported an increase in
the budget to $4 million. Once the
session ended, however, Governor Bill (flip-flop) Owens line-item vetoed the
entire affordable housing budget, eliminating affordable housing for 2002-3.
The coalition, and the Sierra Club, intend to pursue the
creation of an affordable housing trust fund this coming legislative session,
with better results.
For further information, or to help provide legislative
support for affordable housing, contact Sierra Club housing advocates: Bill Myers, 303-935-6810, firstname.lastname@example.org or Environmental Justice
Chair Kathy Glatz, email@example.com