Seeking Housing Affordability in the Denver Metro Area: Detailing the causes and outcomes of the housing crisis to inform local and national solutions

Date: 11/1/2021
Principal Researchers: Carrie Makarewicz

Unit: Department of Urban & Regional Planning

Project Abstract: Homelessness, housing cost burden, and the threat of eviction have reached crisis levels in Metro Denver and other regions in Colorado and the U.S. Researchers and service providers know the number one reason people experience homelessness in Metro Denver is the lack of attainable housing. But while federal, state, and local governments, foundations, and nonprofits are working to address various components of the housing crisis, developers continue to build luxury homes and apartments, with a primary focus on single family homes—a housing product that is least suitable for most households in the region, now and in the future. To shift new housing development to housing prices and types that are most needed, this project asks several questions to uncover the reasons for the significant mismatch between supply and demand. To answer our questions, we employ a mixed-methods approach using detailed historical, current, and proposed parcel-level housing information compared to detailed household information, including databases on unhoused individuals and other vulnerable populations, to identify: a) historical, current and potential patterns of housing development in relation to land use policies, local conditions, and economic influences, and b) the specific housing gaps at small geographies throughout the region. Through qualitative information from focus groups with developers and local governments, we test our assumptions on the causes for the extreme affordability gap, thereby improving our ability to inform changes to local policies, land use codes, and housing advocacy strategies that will encourage more substantial production of affordable and attainable housing.

carrie-editedCarrie Makarewicz Bio: Dr. Makarewicz is an associate professor in Urban & Regional Planning at CU Denver. She researches the implications for individuals from the interactions among public and private sector investments and policies for housing, transportation, neighborhoods, and schools. Her focuses include multi-modal transportation, affordable housing, public schools, community development, and disaster recovery. She has been a change management consultant, city planner, and policy analyst. She has a BBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a Master’s in Urban Planning & Public Affairs from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and a Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Photo Credit: Denver Post

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