Social justice and climate justice go hand in hand, and all of us deserve access to housing that is affordable, safe and environmentally sustainable. Together Colorado is working with lawmakers on a bill this legislative session, SB23-213, that would change the state’s land use requirements to allow for more housing affordability, less urban sprawl and wiser use of natural resources.
Together Colorado leader Dr. Elizabeth Lindquist wrote an op-ed that got published in the Colorado Springs Gazette in which she expresses support for an amended version of SB23-213 which would change zoning codes to allow for construction of more affordable, multi-family housing options. Dr. Lindquist is a faith leader in Colorado Springs, CO.
Affordable Housing Options
(See the article published in the Gazette on April 16, 2023 here, or read full text below)
Many of you have a daughter, elderly parents, a nurse, Lyft driver, or server at a favorite restaurant among your circle of family and friends who cannot afford to rent, let alone buy, a home in Colorado Springs.
At the Senate Local Government and Housing Committee hearing last week, an array of city planners, elected officials, and affordable housing advocates across the state expressed staunch support for SB 23-213. I support an amended version of the bill. Local elected leaders have resisted changes to our residential zoning code that would allow more affordable housing that is less expensive to build and maintain in R-1 zones, which comprise eighty-three percent of our existing residential land.
The opposition to the bill reminds me of 1950s and 1960s civil rights era, when local school boards, cities, and states refused to uphold the rights of people of color to attend the same schools, buy homes in the same neighborhoods, and vote in elections, as their white counterparts.
Housing was a particular concern as “red lining” prevented people of color from buying homes in most attractive and affordable neighborhoods. Not all the above cases were in the South. Colorado Springs in the 1940s and 1950s embraced this practice. It took the Supreme Court, Congress and the president to right those wrongs.
The point is that when local governments fail to address systemic problems that harm many and protect the few, as is the case of single-family zoning and land use, the state government has a shared responsibility to step in to help solve the growing problem. What SB 23-213 does, in part, is to right this limitation on R-1 land use and allow ADUs, duplexes and fourplexes on R-1 zoned land. The first version of our ReTool effort suggested this change, but the Colorado Springs City Council, bowing to the pressure of neighborhood associations and other interests, removed this recommendation.
I support this bill as a tool to begin our journey toward expanded opportunities for lower cost housing for all our residents, regardless of the color of their skin, their income, or how they pray.