Home Equity: A Vision of Housing Security, Health and Opportunity

Home Equity: A Vision of Housing Security, Health and Opportunity

A rapid rise in home prices is straining the budgets of many Colorado households, even as discriminatory policies and practices exacerbate the burden on families of color, a report from the Colorado Health Institute finds. Funded by the Colorado Trust and informed by eighteen partner organizations of the trust's Health Equity Advocacy Cohort, the report, Home Equity: A Vision of Housing Security, Health and Opportunity (56 pages, PDF), found that the average home price increased 77 percent over the past decade while the state's median income rose just 4.5 percent over the same period; that 39 percent of the state's African-American residents spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, compared with 26 percent for white residents; and that Denver has the second-highest rate of involuntary displacement of Latinx residents in the nation (behind only San Jose, California). With a focus on families with children, low-income communities, communities of color, people with disabilities, undocumented immigrants, rural communities, and the homeless, the study examines the impact of housing instability on health — the negative effects, for example, of having to juggle paying for housing, food, and health care; frequent moves due to eviction or rising rents; lack of access to jobs, grocery stores, and transportation, as well as limited accessibility for people with disabilities in underserved neighborhoods; low-quality housing; and unsafe neighborhoods with limited options for recreation and exercise. The report examines eleven policy options for addressing such issues: converting manufactured home parks into resident-owned communities; promoting medical-legal partnerships; prohibiting source-of-income discrimination to expand the supply of affordable housing to voucher holders; certifying health workers to do building inspections; incentivizing the conversion of short-term rentals into affordable long-term rentals in resort communities; giving priority to qualified applicants from neighborhoods where affordable housing is being built; developing an investment fund to preserve affordable housing for Coloradans; ensuring the equitable distribution of the state's housing trust fund dollars; creating a tax rebate or credit for lower-income renters; establishing "right to counsel" for tenants in housing cases; and supporting permanent supportive housing options.