On August 21st, Governor Polis issued Executive Order (EO) D2023 014 “Concerning State Programs that Support Strategic Growth”. NDC was elated to support this EO–while it may appear dry at first glance, it actually bundles together two important initiatives that have the potential to significantly positively impact the dual goals of increasing the affordability and environmental sustainability of Colorado growth patterns.

A) Drastically Increase the Efficiency of the Department of Housing (DOH).This portion of the EO responds directly to concerns that NDC members and other housing providers have expressed to the State regarding how DOH administers housing programs. While the massive influx in voter and legislator approved affordable housing funding has increased DOH resources by a degree of magnitude, its administrative procedures have struggled to keep up with the number and types of housing programs that apply(currently, many housing programs wait a year or more to receive State funding, and often don’t receive enough funding per project to sustainably serve low-income households). To address this, the EO will help empower DOH to collaborate with affordable housing providers to better serve communities in the following ways:

  1. Accelerate Funding: Reduce the time to get funding from State coffers into housing programs to 4 months.
  2. Jumpstart Housing Development: Provide “catalytic” “first-in” funding to help kickstart affordable housing development.
  3. Increase Affordability: Increase the per-unit subsidy to allow housing providers to serve lower-income households.

B) Encourage Strategic Growth. This portion of the EO focuses on accomplishing parts of the Land Use Reform Bill that was defeated last year. To do this, the EO directs state agencies to inventory and report on all policies that affect housing, transportation, economic development, water, and conservation–and then coordinate to ensure that these programs meet Strategic Growth Goals outlined in the document (incentivize affordable housing development, improve transit, conserve water, conserve energy, etc). This section of the EO is likely to make significant changes to sustainability and affordability of development patterns in CO at the intersection of wherever such development is sponsored, supported, or directly regulated by the State.

NDC is optimistic that this EO will have positive impacts on both of the areas it seeks to address. More needs to be done to ensure that State Housing programs maximize affordability and prioritize grants over loans (which needlessly put affordable housing projects in debt to the State), but we feel this is a great start and thank the Polis Administration for its attention to these critical issues.