Hopeful Conversations on Housing and Health
By Victoria Martinez
Many conversations about housing are happening across Colorado. Housing is a statewide issue and a priority for many organizations. More importantly to the HOPE team, it is rising to the surface just how deeply housing is connected to individual and community health.
Legislation on Housing
Our conversations about some current legislation being worked on in Colorado, in regard to housing have been of particular interest to us. HB22-1051 concerns modification of the Colorado affordable housing tax credit, in connection with extending the time during which the credit may be claimed and increasing the yearly amount of credits that can be allocated. HB22-1082 concerns the enforcement of state housing laws by the department of law, establishing a fair housing unit within the department of law. HB22-1083 concerns the creation of the Colorado homeless contribution income tax credit. HB22-1102 concerns protected classes in fair housing practices, including a veteran or military status as a protected class. Lastly, HB22-1127 concerns the creation of an income tax deduction for rent paid.
Community Data on Housing
We also find it hopeful that recently many towns and organizations have been conducting studies on housing. The City of Grand Junction conducted a Grand Valley Housing Needs Assessment in 2021. It found that the Median rent in Grand Junction was $935 in 2019. Larimer County also conducted such a report using the same company, Root Policy Research. The Larimer County Affordable Housing needs Assessment found the median rent in Larimer County was $1,228 in 2018.
Similarly, local assessments have listed housing as a top priority. The 2021-2026 San Luis Valley Community Needs Assessment stated that “the San Luis Valley is above the average Colorado population in poverty, and below the average Colorado population in median income and housing values.” The San Luis Valley Housing Coalition conducted an SLV Housing Needs Assessment in 2021 as well. Finding that “housing and economic challenges abound.”
The town of Alamosa also did an Alamosa Housing Needs Assessment in 2021. It found that Alamosa is a young town. The population in Alamosa is a median age of about 28 (State median is almost 37). Almost one-third (32%) of the city’s population is 18-29 years of age. This makes our HOPE team unique to assist in the housing issues of our community, as our entire team is made up of 18-30 year old’s who are directly impacted by these issues.
According to the Home Equity report prepared by the Colorado Health Institute in 2019 “Housing affects health. The affordability, stability, quality, and accessibility of housing all play a role in individuals’ and communities’ health. The connection is clear, but it’s a complicated undertaking to build a system that addresses needs and inequities in both housing and health.”
The HOPE team is actively working on changing systems and have started to participate in the many housing conversations happening locally and across the state. The stress and anxiety that comes from the rising costs of rent, the lack of affordable homes to purchase, and the housing inequities seen throughout our community directly affect us, therefore we are taking action toward change. Our team has access to capital, and have been growing our collective power, so that the things that happen in Alamosa are community driven, relevant, sustainable, and done with a focus on equity!
Equity vs Equality
In Equality everyone gets the same thing. Equality is the belief that if it benefits one person it can benefit everyone. However, not everyone needs the same things in order to prosper and thrive, because not everyone starts off life with the same things. Equity is when each person gets what they need. One size fits all doesn’t work with housing needs in a diverse community like Alamosa.
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