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  • Writer's pictureVoces Unidas de las Montañas

Politicians who thwarted rent relief owe it to us to push for solutions

Coloradans struggling with skyrocketing rents will not receive any relief from the Legislature this year, as Democratic Sen. Dylan Roberts joined Republicans on Tuesday to kill a measure that would have eliminated the state ban on local communities implementing rent controls.

HB23-1115 was one of our priority pieces of legislation this session because we have seen and heard too much about the negative impacts escalating rents are having on the lives of people in central-mountain communities and across the state.

Sen. Roberts (D-Avon), joined Sens. Janice Rich (R-Grand Junction), Byron Pelton (R-Sterling) and Rod Pelton (R-Cheyenne Wells) in kicking the can down the road for at least another year.

Opponents seem to think the problem can be solved by doing more of the same. That defies logic. But logic doesn’t appear to be guiding their decisions. Many opponents of HB23-1115, championed the idea of local control when opposing the Polis Administration’s ambitious land use bill. But somehow local control won’t work when it comes to rent and providing workforce housing?

Crippling rent increases demand solutions, and it’s incumbent on Sen. Roberts and his Republican colleagues to come forward with plans for the working families who’ve been left behind by nearly every housing policy passed in recent years (As an aside: A bill to control rent and deposit increases for pet owners has already passed the House. It will be a sad statement about political priorities if that bill becomes law and efforts to address the much larger issue of rent increases on working families in Colorado goes unaddressed).

Action is clearly needed. According to the 2022 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda, two out of three Latinos in Colorado favored giving local communities the right to decide on local rent control for themselves. And an overwhelming 88% of Latinos surveyed, regardless of political party, support rent stabilization to address the oppressive rent hikes in mobile home parks.

With that in mind, we should thank the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Javier Mabrey and Elizabeth Velasco and Senator Robert Rodriguez for their efforts to give local communities an additional tool to address the housing crisis.

At least one of the sponsors has vowed to return again next year — and we will again be supportive of the effort. Until then, Colorado law will continue to allow the displacement of Latinos and lower-income residents by prohibiting local governments from responding to the unique needs, values, and cost of living in their communities.


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