Leader Annmarie Jensen discusses the need for affordable housing

A home is a place where everyone should feel safe, where our worries don’t follow us, and where our families can live comfortability. However, while rent prices climb, the idea of an affordable home becomes unsure and unsettling for many. 

Together Colorado leader Annmarie Jensen wrote an Op-Ed entitled “‘Walk the Talk’ on Affordable Housing” for Boulder Daily Camera. Annmarie is the director of the East County Housing Opportunity Coalition, a member of the Affordable Housing Committee, a member of Together Colorado’s Boulder County organizing group, and a longtime Boulder Country resident. 

Guest opinion: Annmarie Jensen: ‘Walk the talk’ on affordable housing

 

In a 2018 Survey of Boulder Citizens, only 9 percent of those surveyed rated the Boulder cost of living as “excellent” or “good.” This disproportionately affects Hispanic and Black families, who are more likely to rent. In addition to that, Black residents are more likely to experience rent burdens and are more likely to be impacted by homelessness. In her editorial, Annmarie shines a light on the pervasiveness of affordable housing as a socio-economic, environmental, and fair wage-based issue. 

Now, more than ever, we all need a safe space to call home, which is why we need affordable housing. Despite the agreement that affordable housing is an issue in Boulder County, Annmarie writes, there has been much opposition to creating a solution to the problem.  Below are some snippets from her editorial, which were edited for this post.

“They say we must dismantle the systems that keep disparities locked in place. Our nation’s housing system — and the programs and policies that perpetuate racial disparities in housing — is the best place to start.

Boulder has an opportunity to do some of that dismantling right now. The City of Boulder website is full of plans about how to address the problem of affordable housing, but each time an affordable housing development is proposed the opposition says: “I support affordable housing, just not here. Not next to these animals, or next to that park, or near me.”

The council must do more than plan. Now is the time to be part of the solution to dismantling racial and economic inequity…

If we want this to change, we have to act. The last time I checked, there were about 400 Boulder Valley School District students who were experiencing homelessness. Many of these students have parents who work, yet they still are priced out of the housing market.

Let’s walk the talk of supporting racial and economic diversity. If we value the lives of the hundreds of children who have nowhere safe to live, I encourage the council to listen to reasonable mitigation arguments, but to reject the arguments that prairie dogs are more important than people.

For too long, we have found excuses not to build affordable housing. Solutions must be found, and we cannot jeopardize the future of our children, who, after all, are part of the ecosystem we live in, too. We must start now. I encourage Mayor Weaver and the rest of council to follow the lead of the 27 mayors’ letter and to support the Celestial Seasonings housing project.”

Thank you to Annmarie for sharing her opinions and her passions on affordable housing. 

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