Written testimony from Alan Muñoz in support of HB-1115
One of our priority bills, HB-1115 (Repeal Prohibition of Local Residential Rent Control), is being heard in committee on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 1:30 p.m.
Voces Unidas organizes leaders from the Western Slope to testify and be part of the legislative process. Below is testimony from Alan Muñoz, submitted for the record in advance of the hearing.
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February 11, 2023
Members of the House Transportation, Housing and Local Government Committee,
My name is Alan Muñoz Valenciano and I am writing today to express my support for HB-1115 – Repeal Prohibition of Local Residential Rent Control, as introduced. Thank you for taking the time to read my testimony.
I am the Regional Organizer for the Greater Roaring Fork Valley for Voces Unidas de las Montañas, an organization that advocates for issues of interest to the Latino community in Colorado’s central mountains. Simply stated, there is no more important issue for our community than housing stability, and that begins with affordability.
I grew up in Rifle and recently returned to my hometown after attending school in Ft. Collins. Like many Latinos in my community, I currently live with my parents. It’s not my first choice, but given the lack of affordable housing in the valley, it’s essentially my only choice. I am fortunate to have a family I can rely on.
Not everyone in my community is so lucky. Although I have been unable to find an affordable rental unit in my hometown, at least I know I will have a place to live next year, or even next month. Many of my neighbors lack that security.
The biggest employer in Rifle is the resort industry of Aspen. But everyone knows it’s impossible for people making $20 an hour to buy or even rent a home near Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt and the surrounding valley. The rapidly rising rents are pushing people farther away from where they work. These days, even Rifle and New Castle are too expensive to live in, pushing workers as far away as Grand Junction and forcing them to commute some three hours a day – on top of an 8–10-hour workday – just to find an affordable place to live. The ripple effects in terms of lost opportunities to engage with their families, their children’s schools, their communities, is immeasurable.
Housing stability is the foundation for healthy and thriving communities, but the increasing cost of rents has far outpaced wages in the central mountains, creating a nearly insurmountable gap in affordability. Repealing the current statewide ban on Local Control of Rents by passing HB-1115 as it is currently written will give the local officials that are most closely connected to the needs of our community an opportunity to set policy most beneficial to our community. It will give us the opportunity to advocate for ourselves, as renters who live in this valley, by bringing the discussion over how best to address our needs to the community level, where it belongs.
Right now, I’m watching the community I grew up in being hollowed out. I’ve had countless conversations with people in fear of being displaced from their homes as rents continue to ratchet upward. Even mobile home parks, the last piece of affordable housing we have, are turning into just another unaffordable option with monthly lot rentals increasing as much as 80% in recent years, putting residents in a very vulnerable situation. Several mobile home park residents I work with have already been displaced by corporate buyers now redeveloping those properties, leaving others scared their landlords might do the same or increase rents so much they can no longer afford to live there.
Those residents deserve the opportunity to sit down with local elected officials and advocate for themselves, just as those local officials deserve every available tool to address their needs. That includes a full repeal of the current ban on Local Control of rents as drafted without amendments in HB-1115. As our mountain communities continue to develop, our local leaders need the flexibility to set policy that meets the specific needs of these communities, including the ability to meet the growing affordable housing need without state-imposed restrictions.
In order to address our community’s housing stability crisis, we strongly urge you to pass HB-1115, as introduced and without amendments.
Alan Muñoz Valenciano