Report Shows That Colorado Is The 9th Least Affordable State to Live Just When Investments in Permanent Housing Achieve “Remarkable Success” in New SIB Report Release
July 15, 2021
Chief Communications and Public Policy Officer
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Denver—Earlier today, the City of Denver released the final evaluation of the five-year Denver Social Impact Bond (SIB) project, touting it a “remarkable success.” The project which Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) participated in alongside Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) launched in 2016 after an audit determined approximately $7 million in safety-net services was used by 250 people experiencing homelessness in the city of Denver. To decrease homelessness and the overuse of safety-net services like detox centers, emergency rooms, and jails, the project proposed a pay-for-success housing model over a five-year evaluation timeframe.
The project results prove that stable housing and supportive services can prevent expensive encounters with the criminal justice and safety-net systems, and help people lead more stable lives as reported by Urban Institute on July 15, 2021. Further, SIB results debunk the myth that people choose to become and stay in the cycle of homelessness. With the offer of appropriate housing and services, people engaged in the SIB program obtained housing and have remained stably housed.
As a proud partner in this program, Colorado Coalition provided 170 apartment homes to the program through its the Renaissance at North Colorado Station property, Renaissance Downtown Lofts, and scattered-site apartment homes throughout Denver. Alongside its partners, CCH provides supportive housing that has resulted in significant cost savings to the City of Denver, transformed the lives of some of Denver’s most marginalized citizens, and improved the quality of life in the downtown neighborhood by reducing the number of individuals who call the streets their home. Learn more about key findings here.
“The Denver Social Impact Bond is one of just a few pay-for-success models in the nation, but it has proven its validity and success over and over for the last five years. Scaling this solution is now our greatest call to action as Denver and surrounding cities in this state continue to become less and less affordable for even those with moderate incomes,” said John Parvensky, President/CEO of Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “The Out of Reach report released yesterday by our partners from the National Low Income Housing Coalition tells us there is no greater time to invest in unique solutions like the SIB project. We are urgently in need of housing solutions in the state of Colorado, and SIB has proven what we know to be true: affordable and accessible housing with appropriate services helps cities like ours prioritize resources for those most in need while using limited tax dollars more wisely.”
According to the Out of Reach Report, to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Colorado, full-time workers need to earn $27.50 per hour or work 89 hours per week at current Colorado minimum wage. This is Colorado's 2021 Housing Wage, revealed in the national report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for the lowest income people. It is no surprise then that Colorado now ranks 9th in least affordable states to live also detailed in this report. More troubling, in light of the SIB results released today, Denver's housing market is more out of reach to its residents than ever before, with residents needing to earn $40.19 per hour toa fford a modest two-bedroom apartment. This comes on the heels of the results of the Social Impact Bond which proves targeted housing investments are the solution to the crisis of homelessness. With many of Denver's chronically homeless residents surviving on very low to no income, there is no way they will be able to access housing that requires a person to make $40.19 in Denver or even $27.50 statewide per hour.
As the report shows, although Colorado’s minimum wage of $12.32 per hour is above the stagnant federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, minimum wage renters must work at least 72 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent of $1154 per month. Even more out of reach for low wage workers with families, is a two-bedroom apartment for the Fair Market Rent of $1430 per month, in increase from previous years even in the midst of a struggling economy and global pandemic. We must address housing instability in our state with programs like the Social Impact Bond and other affordable housing options, increased minimum wage, and affordable and accessible healthcare for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans on the brink. For additional information on the Out of Reach Report, visit: https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/
The concurrent release of these two reports makes a compelling case for elected officials in Colorado to make targeted investments in housing resources, developments, and assistance for those who need it most and who are least likely to be able to attain housing on their own. Through statewide support for SIB-like programs, Colorado can follow Denver’s lead in achieving favorable outcomes for people experiencing homelessness, communities, the safety net system, and taxpayers. With housing costs exploding in Colorado, the time for targeted investments in homelessness prevention and resolution have never been more critical.
About the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
The mission of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is to work collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions for people experiencing and at-risk of homelessness homeless throughout Colorado. The Coalition advocates for and provides a continuum of housing and a variety of services to improve the health, well-being and stability of those it serves. Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the organization has earned state and national recognition for its integrated healthcare, housing, and service programs. The Coalition’s comprehensive approach addresses the causes of homelessness, as well as the consequences, offering critical assistance to over 20,000 individuals and families each year. Learn more at www.coloradocoalition.org.