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Thank you to everyone who shared their expertise and insights, helped review multiple drafts, and engaged their communities in this work. 

Denver Passes Pivotal Measure to Expand Housing Affordability

City Council yesterday voted to approve the historic “Expanding Housing Affordability” policy, a joint effort of Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s Department of Community Planning and Development and Department of Housing Stability in collaboration with City Council, residents, businesses, housing developers and others, to increase access to affordable housing across Denver. The city engaged with partners and the broader community for over a year to develop the new policy, which will take effect in Denver starting July 1. Development applications received by June 30 may continue under current rules. 

Under the new ordinance, all new residential developments of 10 or more units must designate 8% to 12% of the units as affordable for a period of 99 years, regardless of whether the units are for rent or for sale. The exact percentage will vary based on the level of affordability offered, but in all scenarios, these homes would need to be affordable for households making less than the area median income (AMI). In 2022, the AMI for a two-person household in Denver (e.g., two adults or one adult, one child) is approximately $94,000.  

In higher-cost areas of the city, such as downtown and Cherry Creek, developers would need to designate 10% to 15% of new units as affordable. The ordinance also includes zoning and financial incentives to help offset the cost of building affordable units and to increase the overall supply of housing in Denver. 

As part of the Expanding Housing Affordability ordinance, the city will also increase the funding used to build and preserve affordable housing for people with lower incomes. The city’s linkage fee, implemented in 2017 to support Denver’s first dedicated Affordable Housing Fund, will now gradually increase over the next four years to bring Denver more in line with other cities nationally. Development projects that include affordable housing are exempt from the fee. 

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What Denver leaders had to say

“I want to thank city staff for their dedication and work on this ordinance, our residents for providing their input, and City Council for their support of more affordable housing for our residents who need it most,” Mayor Hancock said. “As the first city in Colorado to make use of this new authority, this is a big step forward in addressing this challenge. The lasting affordability guaranteed in this new policy will help bring down costs for hard-working individuals and families, and level the playing field for those facing housing insecurity.” 

“We are committed to creating an inclusive city where our workforce, our first-time homebuyers, and our long-time residents can afford to live,” said Laura E. Aldrete, executive director of Community Planning and Development. “We know inclusionary housing policies like this can be an effective tool to create, maintain, and preserve housing units that are affordable for generations, and we are excited to deliver more housing choices at a wider range of price points for our communities.” 

“Denver is proud to be the first city in Colorado to make use of the state legislation allowing us to regulate affordability in new rental development, along with for-sale,” commented At-Large City Councilwoman Robin Kniech, an active member of the advisory committee that helped shape this policy. “This policy was the missing link among our many other housing affordability strategies like funding and renter protections, and it responds to the strong demand of our residents to ensure more of our new housing supply is within reach of the workers who keep our city running.” 

“Denver values affordability, and this policy is a monumental step forward to deliver more housing for those who need it most,” said HOST Executive Director Britta Fisher. “We can now further leverage our development landscape to build and preserve affordable units as vital community infrastructure and at a much larger scale, while investing more in much-needed housing assistance and stability programs.”

“I want to thank everyone who shared their time, voices, and opinions to shape this important policy for Denver,” said District 1 Councilwoman Amanda P. Sandoval, who was also a member of the advisory committee that helped shape this policy. “The challenges facing affordability in Denver can seem daunting, but tonight we can celebrate passing a critical piece of the puzzle that guarantees affordability in new developments with 10 units or more and contributes to the solution. I am proud to have participated as an advisory committee member and I will continue to lead and advocate for policies that support all who call Denver home.”

Further resources

View all policy resources in the Project Archive
Effective dates of the policy
Download the two-page summary

Coming soon - rules and regulations

Further guidance and rules and regulations are forthcoming for the development community as the city moves forward in implementing the Expanding Housing Affordability policy. 

Why are we doing this work?

Denver needs more affordable housing across the income spectrum. Complementing existing affordable housing programs, the City and County of Denver passed a policy to ensure that as new homes are built in Denver, more affordable homes are built too – both to rent and to buy. As the cost of living in Denver has gone up, one in three households in our city struggles to afford housing costs today. These are our neighbors who are daycare providers and teachers, social workers, restaurant workers, and many other people who make our city the great place we all love. That’s where the Expanding Housing Affordability project comes in.

To learn about other complementary housing initiatives across the city, please visit

Visit the project webpage for the latest updates
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