Helping Workforce Renters in Denver, Colorado


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Denver is piloting a program to subsidize vacant market rate units for workforce families and individuals seeking quality housing.


It is estimated by Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies that nearly 50 percent of renter households are defined as “cost-burdened”, defined as spending 30 percent or more of income on rent and utilities. The JCHS even publishes an interactive map of the severity of cost-burdened households by county in the U.S.


With an absence in action from the federal government in addressing the needs of middle-income renters, local governments are piloting unique programs to serve working families. The Lower Income Voucher Equity Program (LIVE Denver) is a two-year pilot program that leverages a public-private partnership to create immediate affordability for families.


The program works by bridging the gap in the market rent and an individual or family’s ability to pay without being rent burdened. A directory of available units are matched with the apartment seekers needs. Those participating in the program are expected to contribute 35 percent of their income, and the “rent buy-down” is provided through funds from the City of Denver, private employers, and local foundations.


Those looking to participate need to have one person in the household working full-time and the household income level needs to be between 40 and 80 percent of area median income (AMI). This ensures that the program supports the target population of lower-income workforce households.


Programs similar to this are sometimes targeted to those in the public sector, including police officers, teachers, and firefighters, but Denver’s is unique in its openness to anyone who meets the above criteria.

 

Highlights:

  • The Lower Income Voucher Equity Program (LIVE Denver) is a two-year pilot program that leverages a public-private partnership to create immediate affordability for families.

  • Those participating in the program are expected to contribute 35 percent of their income, and the “rent buy-down” is provided through funds from the City of Denver, private employers, and local foundation


Sources:

Brookings: Workforce housing and middle-income housing subsidies: A primer

Joint Center for Housing Studies: America’s Rental Housing 2020

LIVE Denver Website


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