There’s no debate: Colorado is becoming less and less affordable for those of us who call it home. For the last 50 years, the cost of living has outpaced the increase in wages. At the same time, Colorado built 40% fewer homes during 2010-2020 than we built during 2000-2010, leaving supply dangerously low. As a result, more than half of Colorado renters pay more than 30% of their income on housing costs.
We are two people who have dedicated our lives to service as an educator and a certified nursing assistant, but we are quickly being priced out of the communities that we care for. We see our friends and colleagues, hardworking Coloradans of all stripes, who can’t afford to live in the places that they serve, which leaves our neighborhoods more vulnerable and scrambling to sustain the critical services they need to thrive.
Without raising taxes, Proposition 123 will put up to 0.1% of the state’s existing income-tax revenue toward solving our housing crisis. Voters can ensure that a portion of the state budget is set aside to fund programs that will make housing more affordable for working people — by providing down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers, lowering rent, and building more affordable housing.
With this permanent source of funding, we can expand home ownership opportunities for our vital workforce; help renters build wealth to become homeowners; prioritize the approval process for new affordable developments; review of building approvals; and help local governments increase the number of homes that Coloradans can afford by 3% every year.
As expecting parents, we want and need more space to raise our daughter. But getting preapproval for a mortgage has been challenging because real-estate agents and lenders don’t think we can afford a home in this market. We’ve both worked hard to get to where we are today, and earn more now than we could have dreamed of when we were younger. Still, though, we have no clear path forward for bringing up our daughter in the city and state that we love.
No one who works a full time job should have to find ways to supplement their income just to be able to find a modest place to live, but teachers and nurses like us all around the state drive Ubers or wait tables to do just that. In the Adams-Arapahoe 28J school district where I teach, just 26% of homes in the area are affordable to a teacher making the district’s average salary. That number drops down to 14% in Denver, 10% in Jefferson County and just 3% in Douglas County.
We want to raise our daughter in a strong and vibrant community, surrounded by people who wake up every day determined to make it a better place for her generation and the generations that will follow. But so long as our housing market is built to benefit out-of-state investors more than the hardworking folks in our neighborhoods, that vision is just a pipe dream.
That is why we need a sustainable solution that gives more Coloradans a shot to find and build or buy a home within well-resourced communities.
We support Proposition 123 because it can make the dreams we have for our family and for our community possible. Thanks to the measure’s innovative approach to financing affordable housing, the state can invest millions a year in housing designed to permanently put money into our neighborhoods where it can actually benefit the people and services that make them great.
It diverts some of the increasing equity of homeownership away from rich, out-of-state investors’ pockets and back into our neighborhoods, where it can actually benefit the people and services that make them great.
But if we’re going to make Colorado affordable, we’ll need all Coloradans’ support. The path we are currently on isn’t sustainable for anyone, and if we choose not to take action now, prices will continue to skyrocket. If recent trends continue, by 2032 the median single-family home in Colorado will cost nearly $1.7 million, while median rent could balloon to $2,700 per month. These numbers are simply out of reach for us, our friends, families and neighbors — and this population of people will only increase if voters don’t say Yes to 123.
Without Proposition 123, many of us may have no other choice but to take our gifts and talents to more affordable states. And, that’s a cost Colorado cannot afford now or in the future. We must make Colorado affordable for working Coloradans and vote yes on Prop 123 in November.
Jordan McDonald, of Parker, is a certified nurse’s assistant.
Jojo McDonald, of Parker, is a teacher in the Adams-Arapahoe 28J School District.
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