Sen. Bennet Tours Habitat Site, Congratulates First Homeowner
Denver, Jan. 27, 2022 –– Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Maiker Housing Partners Executive Director Peter LiFari joined Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver CEO Heather Lafferty for a tour of Aria Homes by Habitat, an affordable housing development in a mixed-income community in Denver. During the visit, the group congratulated the Coloradan closing on the development’s first home.
Bennet and U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) recently convened a housing affordability strategy group of Coloradans—including LiFari and Lafferty—from across the state that announced a policy framework to address the housing affordability crisis in the state. Increasing housing supply was one of the four key recommendations made by the Strategy Group.
“Aria Homes by Habitat is an incredible example of the kind of innovative projects and partnerships we need to drastically increase the supply of affordable, for-sale housing on the market,” said Bennet. “There, I had an opportunity to meet Rene, a mother of two and a new homeowner thanks in part to this development. And as snow fell around us today, it was incredible to see workers at the site continuing to build houses and fulfill this project’s mission. I’m so grateful to Heather Lafferty, Peter Lifari, and the other members of my Housing Affordability Strategy Group for coming together to create a comprehensive strategy to address the housing crisis in our state through innovative projects like this.”
“It was an honor to welcome Senator Bennet to Aria Homes by Habitat, our 28-home development located in the diverse and collaborative Aria neighborhood,” said Lafferty. “We appreciated the opportunity to discuss how investments in affordable homeownership are transformative, and create stability, opportunity, and hope for our community’s hardworking residents.”
“An affordable home is more than just bricks and sticks, it’s the foundation on which we build our lives. In our state’s efforts to initiate more affordable housing options we must consider ways in which to reduce the amount of time required to bring projects to completion and do so in a way that considers the pressing needs of our communities’ most vulnerable members,” said LiFari. “We applaud Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper for tackling our state’s housing affordability crisis by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders from across Colorado to construct a community-led strategy rooted in public-private collaboration.”
Aria Denver, north of the Highlands neighborhood, is a multigenerational, mixed-income community. Bennet, LiFari, and Lafferty toured Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver’s Aria Homes Development, which when complete, will consist of 28 new affordable, for-sale homes.
The symptoms of the housing crisis exist across Colorado:
- Homelessness increased 2.4% in 2020 and affects nearly 10,000 Coloradans.
- Between 2000 and 2019, rents rose faster than incomes in every Colorado county and city with more than 50,000 residents.
- Today, more than one-quarter of all households in Colorado are “cost burdened,” paying more than 30% of their incomes in housing costs.
- In our mountain towns, community leaders have found that they are not able to fill the jobs necessary to support their local economies because workers cannot afford to live in their communities. The issue results in reduced operating hours for businesses, lower levels of service in communities, and loss of revenue.
- And, some rural communities in Colorado cannot sustain economic growth because the shortage of housing, coupled with low wages, prevents the relocation of businesses and people to their area.
The Housing Affordability Strategy Group’s framework includes specific action items under four big-picture recommendations:
- Increase Supply: The framework spells out the need for the public, non-profit, and for-profit sectors to collaborate on projects that would quickly increase housing supply.
- Update Our Policy Approach: The framework describes the need to modernize the government’s response to the housing crisis so that local communities receive the flexibility they need to respond to local housing needs. Our updated approach also must include a commitment to working together towards a solution that will level the playing field for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), low-income, and other historically marginalized communities; and take steps to integrate cost-saving sustainability and resilience measures into our building.
- Housing Stability Through Prevention: The framework outlines ways to take a more proactive approach to housing stability to prevent unnecessary evictions and homelessness before they happen.
- Integrating Innovation: The framework pushes for more efficient integration and scaling of new approaches to housing into our communities.