On a warm summer evening outside Lafayette’s Sister Carmen Community Center, Jesús Gonzalez of the Elevation Community Land Trust stepped up to the lectern.
Pulling out a folded piece of paper from his back pocket, he began to speak about an issue that’s very important to him and many others in the Boulder County area.
“No matter where I am in Boulder County, the thing I keep hearing is that the crazy housing costs have made it so that people no longer see a bright future for themselves here in our beautiful community,” Gonzalez said.
“Rising rent consumes entire paychecks, and home ownership is so unattainable that an increasing number of people simply can’t afford to live, let alone build wealth here.”
The creation of more affordable housing in Boulder County is exactly what Gonzalez and other community leaders are wanting to see.
Last week, leaders from Together Colorado and East County Housing Opportunity Coalition announced recommendations for Boulder County for long-term, systemic housing investments with American Rescue Plan Act funds.
According to a news release, the recommendations were developed by a coalition of diverse community members and organizations convened by Together Colorado and ECHO, and represent specific, tangible, affordable housing strategies and tools.
“I know I am not the only one struggling to find stable housing,” said Together Colorado leader Leti Lemus in the release. “Many other Boulder County residents, especially immigrants, struggle to afford and maintain consistent housing because the majority of our income goes toward rent.”
“There are some things that we must do now if we want our next generations to have hope; if we want our communities to thrive,” Hermine Ngnomire, founder of County Collectives, said in the release. “We must provide and build affordable housing for the least of us. Thirty percent or less of area median income is what is truly needed today.”
Boulder County is one of the most unaffordable counties in both Colorado and the country, according to a report from the coalition.
Using rescue plan funding, Boulder County Commissioners and city officials have the opportunity to create structural change that addresses two of the coalition’s most pressing needs: very low-income rentals and lower-cost starter homes.
“Our communal moral imperative is to intentionally rebuild a governing structure in a manner centered on the lived experiences of those most impacted by the housing crisis,” the release said. “We urge the municipalities and the county to act on this opportunity to make a change that is an investment for the long term.
“No matter what we look like, where we come from, or how much is in our wallets, we all deserve a safe, stable place to live and thrive.”
The coalition has provided four main proposals for Boulder County to help struggling community members.
These proposals include investing $30 million of the $64 million rescue plan funds Boulder County is receiving in a Housing Trust Fund, providing cash assistance to individuals, leading regulatory changes and improving community outreach.
The full set of recommendations can be found at bit.ly/3Bj87yD.
“These funds offer an unprecedented opportunity for investment to directly remedy the most pressing issues and break down the barriers to wealth generation that had disproportionately affected communities of color,” Gonzalez said. “We can make great strides toward recovery from the pandemic, while also addressing those pre-existing issues that the pandemic exposed and amplified.”
People can watch the full announcement on Facebook at bit.ly/2UVl1lB.
This content was originally published here.